Fianna Fáil TDs do not expect wide-scale reshuffle

FIANNA FÁIL TDs do not expect the Taoiseach to carry out a wide-scale or radical cabinet reshuffle when he fills the ministerial position left vacant with the resignation of Willie O’Dea.

A number of backbenchers believe bringing in fresh faces would help Fianna Fáil’s electoral prospects ahead of a general election.

But many conceded that this is not likely because of the Taoiseach’s loyalty to some Cabinet colleagues and the risks associated with upsetting too many of the troops in an already shaky coalition.

Four names are emerging as potential promotions to ministerial office: Conor Lenihan – brother of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan; Government Chief Whip Pat Carey; Limerick East TD, Peter Power and Clare TD, Tony Killeen.

A number of Dublin TDs said the new face in Cabinet should come from the city where Fianna Fáil has lost significant support since the local and European elections last year.

But realistically, the Government needs a strong voice in the midwest region and it would be difficult to leave Limerick without a presence at the table.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen, will ultimately make his own mind up and would not be drawn yesterday on whether a reshuffle was on the agenda.

He said: “I have taken over responsibility for the Department of Defence. And in due course, we will see what replacement will be made in that respect. I am not making any comment on future reshuffles.”

But a member of the Fianna Fáil national executive, Jerry Beades, said the Taoiseach needs to show “decisive leadership” and sack at least six of his current ministers.

“The public want to see fresh faces. Now is the time, we are going to be facing an election in the next two years, a lot of the current Cabinet will retire in any case,” he said.

This was echoed by a party TD who said: “A freshening up is definitely needed.”

He said: “It’s not just about bringing in new faces. You need to get the right people in the right jobs and that has to happen.”

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