Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan are sitting comfortably, but what about those behind them? Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Everyday I'm Shufflin

Ministerial merry-go-round: Here's who might move where in the big Cabinet reshuffle

The government departments, the incumbent ministers and the frontrunners to replace some of them

THE CABINET RESHUFFLE is imminent and the permutations are wide and varied with speculation hitting fever pitch in recent days.

With the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the newly-appointed Tánaiste Joan Burton meeting today the reshuffle of ministers is one of the big items on the agenda.

As we examined earlier there is a lot to consider and plenty of names being considered. Here’s a quick run down of government departments and what could happen.

Staying put


Michael Noonan (Fine Gael) – Safe as houses.

Public Expenditure and Reform

Brendan Howlin (Labour) – Has already been assured he will remain in post.

Social Protection 

Joan Burton (Labour) – She can stay if she wants to.


Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) – Only in the door.


Charlie Flanagan (Fine Gael) – Ditto.

Changes on the way


Incumbent: James Reilly (Fine Gael) – Budget overruns and various controversies mean he is seen as the most under threat but Kenny may yet spring a surprise and keep him.

Frontrunners to replace him: Ministers Richard Bruton or Leo Varadkar (both Fine Gael)


Incumbent: Ruairí Quinn (Labour) but he has already said he’ll step down.

Frontrunners: Expected to stay in Labour with junior ministers Kathleen Lynch, Alan Kelly and Seán Sherlock in the running.


Incumbent: Richard Bruton (Fine Gael)

Frontrunners: Bruton could remain in place or else if Labour gets it, its deputy leader Alan Kelly is the favourite


Incumbent: Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) is doing relatively well and is not believed to be keen on moving.

Frontrunners: If Coveney does move then chief whip and junior defence minister Paul Kehoe (Fine Gael) is the favourite.

Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Incumbent: Jimmy Deenihan (Fine Gael)

Frontrunners: Its expected that Deenihan will be demoted with Arts seen as a safe haven for James Reilly if he is. Labour could also push to hold a portfolio that was once famously Michael D Higgins’.

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 

Incumbent: Pat Rabbitte (Labour)

Frontrunners: Rabbitte is likely to be dropped. No clear frontrunner but if it remains in Labour then possibly one of the new intake like Sherlock, Alex White or Lynch.


Incumbent: Minister of State Paul Kehoe (Fine Gael)

Frontrunners: Kehoe is likely to remain in situ as a Minister of State.

Environment, Community and Local Government 

Incumbent: Phil Hogan (Fine Gael) is almost certainly on his way to Brussels and the European Commission job.

Frontrunners: If he doesn’t get Health then Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael) could be moved here.

Foreign Affairs and Trade

Incumbent: Eamon Gilmore (Labour) will almost certainly be moved to the backbenches if not Europe.

Frontrunners: Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) is being tipped to move here.


Incumbent: Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael)

Frontrunners: Could be James Reilly if he is moved out of Health. Junior Minister Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael) is also in the running.

More: Here are the 9 things you need to know about the imminent Cabinet reshuffle


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