You’d be hard pressed to find someone in Fianna Fáil with something negative to say about the party’s deputy leader Dara Calleary. The Mayo TD goes out of his way to get on with everyone.
t is one of the reasons Micheál Martin appointed him as his deputy in March 2018. “If there was a funeral for a councillor’s father who lived up a hill in the back of arse of nowhere and you asked him to come he would,” a colleague said.
Calleary was appointed as chief negotiator for the arduous government formation talks with Fine Gael and the Green Party and once the deal was done he, like other frontbench TDs, spent hour after hour on teleconference calls trying to sell a deal which would see Martin elected as Taoiseach.
Naturally, he expected to be rewarded for his hard work and loyalty to the leader but on Saturday afternoon the new Taoiseach asked him to the serve as Government Chief Whip – a position that comes with a salary €40,000 less than a senior minister.
In comparison, Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence while Green Party deputy leader was given the mammoth Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht.
Calleary’s supporters in the party were furious with Martin’s decision not to give him a full Cabinet position.
“There was poisonous atmosphere in the Convention Centre after the Cabinet was voted in,” a TD said. “No one could understand why Micheál would do that to Dara,” he added.
Another TD said it was an “appalling public humiliation” of TD who “worked his b****x off” to get Martin into the Taoiseach’s Office. “People in the West are furious over what he did to Dara and it makes a mockery of their supposed commitment to regional development,” the TD added.
Another TD said Calleary should have told Martin to “f**k off and caused a mutiny”.
Others in Fianna Fáil were angry over the decision to appoint Stephen Donnelly as Health Minister.
“People who dedicated their lives to Fianna Fáil have bee been overlooked for a “f*****g Social Democrat,” a TD said in reference to the party Donnelly left two years ago before joining Fianna Fáil. “It’s not like he performed well in the General Election,” another TD sad.
First-time TD Norma Foley’s appointment as Education Minister also raised eyebrows and was seen as a major snub to second term TDs Anne Rabbitte, Mary Butler and Niamh Smyth who hoped to be in the running for top jobs.
But the Calleary snub even confused Fine Gael who were banking on him being appointed to Cabinet as the only senior minister in Connaught.
Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton was appointed as super junior but there is no senior representative for the entire West of Ireland .
Micheál Martin’s team said he tried to appoint ministers who were suited to their roles. “He tried to appoint the best to the portfolios we have,” a source said.
“The chief whip is a super junior and Dara has great experience for a complex job involving the three parties,” the source added.
A newly appointed minister said he could understand why Calleary is “rightly annoyed” but said he will “eventually make his peace” with the appointment and “do an excellent job”. “We need someone in that role with his abilities,” the source said. However, the division sparked by the decision could have far reaching consequences for Martin as he steps into the cauldron of Government Buildings and needs loyal supporters now more than ever.
Source: Irish News