Life in Varadkar’s Ireland will be a bright new dawn, Leo informed us outside Government Buildings, writes Daniel McConnell
It is going to be “great”, “positive”, “energetic”, “dynamic”.
Life in Varadkar’s Ireland will be a bright new dawn, Leo informed us in a sunny courtyard outside Government Buildings.
“A new start, confident were are moving in the right direction,” he said.
But enough of all that guff, all the media wanted to know was who will sit in his Cabinet and who will lose out.
Health Minister Simon Harris has assumed a toxicity in recent days given his support for losing candidate Simon Coveney — there have been strong suggestions that he is for the chop.
Realising this, Coveney made it clear on 96FM on Tuesday that he would not be a happy bunny if Harris is dumped. But Varadkar gave him little succour yesterday. Mr Varadkar would only say he has considered different options, but he has not made any decisions yet — leading some to think that Mr Harris’ job is under threat. He said he will take “a degree of regional balance and gender balance” into account when selecting ministers, he said, but the core issue is trust: “Anyone who runs a cabinet, and anyone who heads up a government, who heads up a football team, needs to know that everyone on that team is going to be fully behind your programme.”
The clear implication is that he does not fully trust Harris, with whom the new leader is not close. Such is the antipathy there, that Varadkar may seek to leave Harris in health as punishment.
Given Varadkar’s repeated talk of generational change at cabinet, the names of Charlie Flanagan, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and even Frances Fitzgerald spring to mind pretty immediately.
Fitzgerald is facing a double demotion as she is almost certain to be moved out of justice and a sure bet to lose the Tánaiste title, which is expected to go to Coveney. But her backing of Varadkar could see her stay at the top table for a while. However, if Varadkar is struggling to accommodate the demands of those who supported him, then she could find herself put out to pasture.
One other possible demotee is Education Minister Richard Bruton. But his early declaration for Varadkar appears to have secured his future. Bruton has been linked with Noonan’s finance job but there is talk Paschal Donohoe will take control of both finance departments and Bruton could be asked to take on the crisis-engulfed justice department.
The name of long-time rebel Waterford TD John Deasy has been doing the rounds in respect to the junior justice ministry, as he has retained close links with Varadkar for a long time.
Junior finance minister and Varadkar campaign manager Eoghan Murphy is a dead cert to be elevated into Cabinet and he has been linked with the jobs portfolio which is likely to see a major Brexit element added to its brief.
Kilkenny TD and another Varadkar loyalist John Paul Phelan has been mentioned in connection with the chief whip’s job which would see Regina Doherty elevated into Cabinet.
The big problem for Varadkar is that the Cabinet will have an increased Dublin-centric feel to it and to combat that, it has been suggested that junior Mayo minister Michael Ring could become the Minister for the West.
But as Leo said himself yesterday, come Wednesday there are likely to be far more disappointments than appointments.
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