Fianna Fáil is eyeing up the Justice and Foreign Affairs portfolios after December’s reshuffle amid growing tensions with Fine Gael.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Táoiseach Micheál Martin is keen to take either over from current Justice Minister Helen McEntee or from Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney rather than doing a straight swap with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
The news comes as it has been confirmed that the December 15th changeover date is to be delayed by several days to allow Mr Martin to attend his final EU summit in Brussels as Taoiseach.
It is increasingly unlikely that any senior Cabinet minister on the Fine Gael side will be demoted while there is still a belief Mr Martin will demote Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in the reshuffle.
It is expected most ministers will rotate to different positions at Cabinet with changes of personnel occurring at junior ministerial level.
Mr Varadkar, in addition to being Tánaiste, is also minister for enterprise, trade and employment and Mr Martin has previously occupied that post during his 14-year stint at Cabinet between 1997 and 2011.
The reason the party is keen to take on either Justice or Foreign Affairs is that they both have responsibility for affairs relating to Northern Ireland and it has been the cause of some angst that neither portfolio has been in the party’s control since entering Government in June 2020.
While it has been speculated in recent days that a move to Foreign Affairs is more likely, this has been discounted by party sources.
They have said should Mr Martin take over from Mr Coveney, it is a tacit signal to his party that he is on the way out, as the role will have him out of the country for long periods and would be an “invitation to his rivals to take him out”.