Four Cabinet seats to Independents in return for support of government deal

Fine Gael will concede four Cabinet seats to Independents today in exchange for their support for a deal to form a Government.

Four Cabinet seats to Independents in return for support of government deal

Junior minister Simon Harris, Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty, and Independent TDs Shane Ross, Denis Naughten, Katherine Zappone, and Seán Canney look set to be among the new faces at Cabinet after today.

Dublin Bay North TD Finian McGrath looks set to be named a super junior minister with responsibility for disabilities.

After 70 days of talks since the general election, Enda Kenny is on course to be finally re-elected Taoiseach at the fourth time of asking.

Late last night, last minute talks were continuing to secure the support of the six Independent Alliance TDs, at least three of the so-called rural five, as well as Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae.

Roscommon Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice of the Independent Alliance appeared to be waivering as to his position, due to a major disagreement over turf cutting rights.

One source put Mr Fitzmaurice’s chances of supporting the deal at “less than 50:50”.

Waterford TD John Halligan, who had been on the verge of withdrawing, last night secured a funding agreement from Finance Minister Michael Noonan for cardiac services at Waterford Hospital.

He signalled that he was likely to support the deal as a result.

But speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Halligan said the Independent Alliance will be demanding at least two Cabinet ministers and two junior ministers in return for their support.

A Fine Gael minister last night said his party will offer Independents at least two full cabinet positions, two super junior posts and a number of junior ministerial roles.

The minister said Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross may be offered the transport or public expenditure and reform portfolios.

He also said rural five member Denis Naughten is a near certainty to be offered the rural affairs ministerial position.

In Government Buildings, Mr Kenny was up until midnight involved in intensive one-to-one discussions with the Independent TDs in a bid to shore up their support.

There was outrage in the Independent ranks even before Independent TDs received the 160-page draft programme for government.

It is understood there were strong words exchanged by Noel Grealish and Michael Collins when Paschal Donohoe told Independents that they would have less than two hours to study the document before indicating whether they could support Mr Kenny or not.

Likewise, Simon Coveney’s message that a nomination for Taoiseach would go ahead today led to an expletive-laden row shortly after 4pm with members of the Independent Alliance.

According to the draft document, two new senior ministries will be created, including one looking after the area of housing.

A new court is to be set up to help struggling mortgage holders while the government will establish a “help to buy” scheme for those hoping to get on the property ladder.

An overhaul of the judicial appointments system, the reopening of garda stations, and a new Public Defender System for citizens will be introduced under draft plans for the new government.

It commits to additional spending on public services of €6.75bn between now and 2021, but spending that is based on sound public finances and a broad tax base. The deal commits that public spending and tax cuts will occur on a 2:1 ratio between now and 2021.

The plan also includes a commitment to “immediately proceed” to the design phase for a cystic fibrosis unit at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, with building starting next year.

In addition, the emergency department trolley crisis will be addressed by unspecified increases in GP and hospital bed funding.

Mr Harris has been linked to the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, but it is believed current Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe could pip him for that post.

Current Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald looks set to be appointed Tánaiste while remaining on as Justice Minister.

It is understood that the Department of the Environment will be split and a new Department of Housing and Local Government will be formed and be housed at the Customs House.

The vote to see Mr Kenny re-elected Taoiseach will commence when the Dail convenes at 12pm.

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