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everyday i'm reshufflin

Govt to name next EU Commissioner tomorrow – but what could it mean for Cabinet?

The proposed candidate is expected to be Finance Minister Michael McGrath.

MixCollage-24-Jun-2024-01-48-PM-2977 Micheál Martin could have some Cabinet re-thinking to do. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

COALITION PARTY LEADERS will tonight discuss who the next EU Commissioner will be.

Tonight’s meeting is a formality, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin stating last week that he has already discussed his choice with Taoiseach Simon Harris. 

The proposed candidate, widely reported to be Finance Minister Michael McGrath, will be brought before Cabinet tomorrow. 

As reported by The Journal over the weekend, the Tánaiste would not comment when asked if his choice will result in a mini Cabinet reshuffle, though there has been significant speculation in political circles as to what McGrath’s departure to Brussels might mean.

If McGrath does take the top job, who will be the next finance minister?

With the appointment of Minister of State Jack Chambers to the position of deputy leader of Fianna Fáil last week, many within the party have viewed that as a precursor to him possibly taking on the finance portfolio.

Though some question Chambers’ experience and whether he would be ready to be parachuted into such a high position, there is talk that if McGrath is to get the EU Commissioner position, he might still do this year’s budget in the autumn. 

One source states that McGrath may not depart until mid October, as that is when the new Commission takes office. This would leave McGrath to do the budget and Chambers could take over after that point. 

While Chambers has been tipped for the finance job, some TDs state that it is really only a caretaker role, given that an election could be held by the end of this year or in early 2025. 

But what other names are in the mix if McGrath leaves the finance position vacant.

Other names being spoken about is the current Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

However sources state that no discussions have been had with O’Brien on the matter and questions could be raised about moving someone into housing with only months to go in this government’s term. 

Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Dara Calleary has also been mentioned in the mix. 

Calleary had a brief stint at Cabinet, but stepped down after attending the Golfgate dinner during the pandemic. Martin might be minded to give him a seat at the table now four years on from the controversy.

If either Chambers or Calleary move up the ladder, this will also mean promotion to someone in the backbencher ranks of the party in terms of a junior ministry then becoming available. 

Another train of thought within the Fianna Fáil party, though some are skeptical, is that the Tánaiste might take on the finance ministry so as to continue the steady-as-she-goes approach.

It could also prove beneficial for his party demands in terms of being at the helm of budget-making decisions, and might mean Martin will move to temper some of Fine Gael’s budget kite-flying demands of late. 

No matter what name is announced tomorrow, it will result in some big decisions being made, with no missteps wanted so close to a possible election.

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