Gilmore ‘has not discussed reshuffle’

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has left the door open to switching to a more frontline economic role in the Cabinet reshuffle signalled by the Taoiseach.

Gilmore ‘has not discussed reshuffle’

Stressing that his foreign affairs role included a trade element, Mr Gilmore refused to rule out changing to a more domestic-focused department.

Enda Kenny’s announcement that he planned to swap his top team around appeared to take the Labour parliamentary party’s conference by surprise, with the Tánaiste saying he had not yet discussed a reshuffle with the Taoiseach.

“It’s not something that is immediately on the horizon, but it something that will be addressed at some point in the life of the Government. We haven’t discussed it, it is something for another day.

“In the five-year life of a government it has generally been the case that you don’t finish with the same 15, or at least the same 15 in the same place that they were at the beginning,” he said.

A number of Labour TDs have urged Mr Gilmore to take a more high-profile, domestic role in Cabinet as they fear his Foreign Affairs portfolio makes him appear distant from the key battle for economic recovery and has contributed to his slide in the opinion polls.

However, the Labour leader stressed his department sees boosting exports as a major part of its role.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton insisted she was enjoying the responsibilities of her big-spending department and would not be drawn on speculation she could be moved to the education portfolio.

“I’ve said that I’m very happy to be working in social protection and with people involved all over the country in delivering services, particularly supports for our retired people,” Ms Burton said.

Junior health minister Kathleen Lynch said she was not “shaking in her boots” at the prospect of Mr Kenny wielding the ministerial knife, but would not say who she expected to face the axe in the shake-up.

“I think a reshuffle was always on the cards. I would never try to influence it, nor predict who might be promoted or demoted,” Ms Lynch said.

The minister responsible for mental health insisted she did not expect any more Labour TDs and senators to walk out of the party in protest at the scale of the looming austerity budget on Oct 15. Mr Gilmore reiterated the adjustment should be lower than the €3.1bn tax and cut target originally envisaged by the Coalition for the financial correction.

“I have made the point since the start of the summer that it is my view that we can achieve our targets with a budgetary adjustment of less than €3.1bn that some have been advocating,” the Tánaiste said.

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