Taoiseach Enda Kenny flags Cabinet reshuffle, but not this year

Tuesday 17 September 2013 22.07
Enda Kenny said the Government's objective was to restore the economy
Enda Kenny said the Government's objective was to restore the economy

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said a planned Cabinet reshuffle will not take place this year.

Mr Kenny told the closing press conference at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that all his ministers were working very hard, but they knew there would be changes.

He also said he had not discussed who might be chosen as European Commissioner when the post becomes vacant next year.

Mr Kenny told reporters the Government would fulfil its full five-year mandate and go to the country in the "iconic" year of 2016.

He said Fine Gael would stand on an independent platform and not run a joint campaign with Labour.

On party dissidents who have lost the whip, Mr Kenny insisted they were adults who knew what they were doing when they took the stance they did.

He maintained that the Government needed stability to push through its reforms and there could not be stability if everyone did their own thing.

Asked about possible cost overruns in the Department of Health, the Taoiseach said the figure last year was €250m, but this year it was €60m.

He said Minister for Health James Reilly was aware of the realities and hoped that most of that could be recouped.

Mr Reilly earlier told reporters that while great strides had been made, there was a serious demographic issue to deal with.

He said he did not want to be over budget, but older people had multiple conditions and tended to be admitted for longer.

The minister maintained health did not benefit from a lift in the economy the way other sectors did.

Mr Reilly said the most important thing for him as Minister for Health was to ensure that people were provided with a safe service.

He said if that ultimately meant being slightly over budget, then he would prefer to be slightly over budget than have people suffer or die needlessly.

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher said Minister Reilly is "incapable of managing the health service" and a Cabinet reshuffle "cannot come soon enough".

Mr Kelleher said: "This time last year we said that Minister Reilly was incapable of managing the health service.

"Clearly, his statement today shows that he is completely out of his depth. The disappointing thing out of all of this is that patients are suffering.

"We now have a situation where we have increased waiting lists, people waiting for procedures and the sickest people in society are unable to get medical cards."

Taoiseach warns Budget will be 'tough'

Earlier, Mr Kenny said next month's Budget will be tough irrespective of the scale of the financial adjustment.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Kenny said the Government's objective was to restore the economy to good health and get people back to work.

He said the Budget was going to be tough regardless of whether the adjustment was €3.1bn or €2.8bn.

Asked about prospective cuts to the social protection budget, Mr Kenny said every area of spending had to be examined and it was never easy getting to the last sections of what needs to be done.

Ireland was recognised internationally for what it had done in terms of the changes made, he said, adding that he did "smell" signs of confidence.

Mr Kenny said the Budget would be one designed to continue to attract international market confidence, where there is inward investment for job creation.

It would also deal with the delivery of good care for people and make it attractive for people to get back to work.

He said there were a number of traps that had to be dealt with to get people off the Live Register and back into work.

The Taoiseach said this would be the last of the "really tough" budgets.