'I was an angry person…but there weren't any jobs left on the table' – Dara Calleary reacts to Martin's ministry snub

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Fianna Fáil deputy leader. Dara Calleary said that he was angered by Taoiseach Mícheál Martin’s appointment of him as Chief Whip, but that “there weren’t any other jobs on the table”.

r Calleary was widely expected to be offered a ministerial role when his party leader Mícheál Martin informed TDs of his Cabinet delegations on Saturday.

The Mayo TD said that he was surprised and disappointed, but, being the last TD to be offered a role, after relaying that to Mr Martin, no other jobs were offered.

“It wasn’t the weekend I expected,” Mr Calleary told MidWest Radio.

“I am not going to go into what was a very private, and incredibly difficult conversation. I understand that I was the last person (to be offered a Cabinet role).

“What he said to me was that the Chief Whip’s role is going to be incredibly difficult in a three-party government and he had identified me with the skills and abilities to work with the three parties to ensure we implement the programme for government and that he was particularly confident that I would be able to do that.

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Shock: Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary after the election of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach. Photo: Frank McGrath

Shock: Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary after the election of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach. Photo: Frank McGrath

Shock: Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary after the election of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach. Photo: Frank McGrath

Shock: Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary after the election of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach. Photo: Frank McGrath

“There weren’t any other jobs on the table offered to me. We had a very difficult conversation and I told him I was disappointed.”

Mr Calleary said that despite an ambition to take up the role of a senior minister, he accepted his position as Chief Whip in an effort to “deliver for the west”.

“I had hoped to lead a department. That has always been my ambition and it is still my ambition today and it will happen. It will absolutely happen,” he said.

“I’m going to take on the job I was given. The Chief Whip is often called the gatekeeper of Cabinet and I will be that gatekeeper. I will be a voice for the west at that Cabinet table and I will be a voice that will not be quiet.

“I’m disappointed and I know there is anger, I am getting those calls, but I will work 24/7 to reassure and return the support I have gotten from people over the last two days and I will work 24/7 within Cabinet to deliver for Mayo and to deliver for the West and I will be judged at the end of the term of this government with how I do that.”

Party leaders and rotating Taoisigh to be, Eamon Ryan Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin have been criticised for abandoning parts of the country. There were no senior minster positions given to the West of Ireland, from Donegal all the way to Limerick. Minister for Education, Norma Foley in Kerry the only exception.

Of the 15 members of the cabinet, seven come from just three constituencies – Micheál Martin, Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath from Cork South Central, Leo Varadkar and Roderic O’Gorman in Dublin West and Stephen Donnelly and Simon Harris in Wicklow. Helen McEntee in Meath East as well as six Dublin ministers and the two in Wicklow mean that nine of 15 ministers hail from within a short drive of the M50.

Mr Calleary said that he has received hundreds of angry phone calls, many from his native Connacht where there is not one department leader. While himself and Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughten will be present at the cabinet table as super junior Ministers, he said that he too was angry, but that he will use this anger to motivate him in Cabinet.

“Hundreds of people have been in contact since Saturday. I’m genuinely blown away by it,” he said.

“I get where the anger is coming from but I’m going to be on that table and I am going to be strong, loud and constructive, and working with the other ministers around that table, they’re not going to forget that the west exists and they’re not going to forget the challenges in place.

“As Chief Whip I will be in their ear on a daily basis about government business but I’ll also be in their ear about business in the west of Ireland and ensuring that they deliver on the promises that are in the Programme for Government.

“I hear the anger, I understand the anger, I was that angry person yesterday. I’m going to take it on and turn it into action and let it drive me on around the Cabinet table. “

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Source: Irish News