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Enda rules out general election and Cabinet reshuffle in the near future

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also said there’s no chance of a coalition with Fianna Fáil in the future.

15/9/2016 Action Plans for Education Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Minister of State for Training Skills and Innovation John Halligan. Source: Sam Boal

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY remains confident that there will be no general election in the near future.

Speaking to reporters, Kenny said:

Well for me, I do not see an election at all in the very foreseeable future. We have a three-year confidence and supply agreement with the Fianna Fáil party, with a review at the end of 2018.
We have 600 tasks in the Programme for Government and we are getting on with that business, and the last thing on my mind is the thought of a general election. We are far too busy, working in the interests of the people to contemplate that.

When asked if he would be seeking a third term as Taoiseach, he said:

“I’m not even contemplating an election, there won’t be one for three years.”

This is despite Junior Minister John Halligan speculating yesterday that the government would only last two of the three years committed to under the confidence and supply agreement made with Fianna Fáil that, if honoured, will see three Budgets passed.

Kenny also ruled out the possibility of any future coalition with Fianna Fáil, stating:

“I don’t see a coming together of the Fine Gael party and the Fianna Fáil party if you like as a combined unit.”

Reflecting on the past year, Kenny said a government should not be judged on the extent of legislation gone through this year.

“It’s a partnership not a dictatorship, that means you have to think differently about how government functions and about what has to be done in the best interest of the country,” he said.

Partnership government means you can’t just expect to put through all the legislation that might have happened when there was an overall majority.

The Taoiseach said he had recently been speaking to President Michael D Higgins, commenting that in previous years the president would have been required to do a lot more signatures for legislation over the Christmas. This is not the case this year, he said.

However, this was not something he was overly concerned about.

I don’t judge the work of government by the extent of legislation done through, of far more interest to me is the priorities we have of creating jobs and growing the economy.

Cabinet reshuffle 

Despite hinting of a possible Cabinet reshuffle during the summer at the Fine Gael think-in in Kildare, Kenny has ruled out any such move in 2017.

I’m suggesting to you that there certainly won’t be any reshuffle this year and I’m not giving consideration to it in May either.

The Taoiseach also commented on the performance of former Fine Gael TD and current Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

The Roscommon TD famously expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party in July 2011 when he voted against a government reversal of the reopening of health services at Roscommon County Hospital.

Kenny was asked how he was getting on with the minister and if he would consider asking Naughten to rejoin the party.

How am I getting on with Denis Naughten? Great. Roscommon is busier than ever it was. Minister Naughten is fully on top of his brief and working very well. He’s actually dealing these days with particularly challenges of climate change – which presents challenges for Ireland reaching emissions levels by 2030.
Would Denis Naughten come back to the Fine Gael party? I’m sure that’s something that’s entirely a matter him. He sits as an Independent at the Cabinet table. I’m very happy with his performance…
Well far be it for me to try to say to anybody this is what you should do with your political career. Denis is a senior minister at Cabinet, working very hard and doing a great job as indeed I am happy with all my colleagues and my job is to encourage them if they have challenges or problems I’ll try to help them.

He concluded by saying that all those in the party, including those like Brendan Griffin who have been critical about the delay in Kenny stepping aside as leader are all looking to the year ahead.

“We’re all focused on the future, believe me.”

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