TAOISEACH Micheál Martin unveiled his new Cabinet this evening as Fianna Fial, Fine Gael and the Green Party carved up the 15 seats between them.
o, who got what?
As Tánaiste and to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar, 41, was elected to the Dail after the 2007 General Election and was reward for his success with a position on Enda Kenny’s frontbench. When Fine Gael was elected to Government in 2011 he was appointed Transport Minister. Despite the country being in the grips of recession, Varadkar did enjoy some success in the Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism, such as The Gathering initiative and the commencement of Luas Cross City project. Following a Cabinet reshuffle he was appointed as Health Minister where he had less success. After the 2016 General Election, Mr Kenny moved him to the Department of Social Protection. He later replaced Mr Kenny as Fine Gael leader and became Taoiseach.
Minister for Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, 56, was Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the ill-fated Fianna Fáil-Green government between 2007 and 2011.
After losing the Dáil seat in Dublin South he had held since 2002, he was elected party leader within three months of that electoral drubbing and set about trying to rebuild the Greens.
He was close to being elected to the European Parliament in 2014 before landing a Dáil seat in the constituency next door to his old one, Dublin Bay South, in 2016. He retained it in February’s general election when the Greens returned an unprecedented 12 TDs off the back of the public’s growing interest and concern in climate change issues.Despite the electoral success, Ryan’s leadership has come under pressure internally partly as a result of a series of gaffes. In tandem with getting to grips with his expansive new role he faces a leadership contest against Catherine Martin which kicks off in the coming days.
Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe
‘Prudent Paschal’ will return to the Department of Finance where he’s going to have to work on paying for the massive ramping up of State spending during the coronavirus crisis. Mr Donohoe, 45, got much of the credit for Ireland’s finances – briefly –returning to the black after the last recession. Now he has to do it all over again. The Dublin Central TD is an affable politician and a book lover with a penchant for displaying Star Wars figurines in his office. He could be in line for one of the top jobs in Europe after it was confirmed his name has gone forward as a candidate for President of the Eurogroup.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath
Michael McGrath has been Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central since 2007. He shares the constituency with his party leader, Micheál Martin, and Fine Gael deputy leader, Simon Coveney. A chartered accountant by profession he has been a long-time Fianna Fáil finance spokesman and has also been a key party government formation negotiator in 2016 and again this year. He also contributed to the banking inquiry in 2015/2016. He first came into politics as a poll-topping county councillor in the 2004 local elections. Previously worked as an accountant with the firm KPMG.
Minister for Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney
The outgoing Tánaiste Simon Coveney, 47, bounced back from defeat in the Fine Gael leadership battle with Leo Varadkar carving out a strong role in Ireland’s fight to reduce the harmful impact of Brexit. From one of Cork’s prosperous ‘merchant prince’ families, Mr Coveney was first elected in 1998 in a by-election following the death of his TD father Hugh. Mr Coveney handled the horse meat crisis well during his stint as Agriculture Minister but he over-promised in the housing brief, failing to end the practice of homeless families living in hotels. His renewed tenure at Foreign Affairs will see crucial trade talks with post-Brexit UK and Ireland’s time on the United Nations Security Council.
Minister for Department of Education, Norma Foley
Norma Foley, aged 51, has joined a small group of first-time TDs to win promotion directly into Cabinet. The Kerry Fianna Fáil was elected to the Dáil for the first time on February 8 last having failed in one previous attempt in May 2007. A teacher and Kerry County Councillor since 2004 she was also a member of the old Tralee local council and served as mayor of that town on three occasions. Norma Foley is the daughter of the late Denis Foley a former TD for Kerry North and also a senator over many years.
Minister for Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman
The Green Party justice spokesman, 37, has contested 10 elections in 15 years, missing out on a Dáil seat in four general elections and two by-elections before finally becoming a TD for Dublin West in February.
A long-serving Green activist, he lectured at the Brexit Institute and School of Law and Government in DCU, specialising in EU, climate change and planning law prior to becoming a TD. Well-liked across the party and known as a bit of a policy wonk, he played a prominent role in the government formation talks in recent weeks.
The Tyrrelstown native was a strong advocate for the civil partnerships bill – the precursor to same-sex marriage – when the Greens were last in government and was critical of what he perceived to be the delaying tactics of Fianna Fáil. He will be wise to such tactics this time around.
Minister for Department of Agriculture and the Marine, Barry Cowen
Barry Cowen, aged 52, has been a TD for Laois-Offaly since 2011. He is the brother of the former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, and his father, Ber, was a Fianna Fáil TD for the years 1969-1973 and 1977-1984. He has been a high-profile and influential party member engaging in government formation talks in 2016 and again this year. He first entered politics by being elected to Offaly County Council in 1999. Mr Cowen was spokesman on public finance and held a number of other high-profile party posts since being elected to Leinster House.
Minister for Department of Justice, Helen McEntee
The Meath East TD, 34, found herself accompanying then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel just two days after being appointed as European Affairs Minister. She was a constant presence at senior-level EU meetings for more than two years after that as the Brexit saga played out. She is well-regarded in the EU for her behind the scenes diplomatic work. She first entered politics in a by-election following the tragic death of her father, Fine Gael minister Shane McEntee in 2012. She has carved out a successful a career first as a junior health minister and then on the European stage. She was perhaps the most obvious choice to be promoted to Cabinet by Mr Varadkar.
Minister for Department of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, Heather Humphreys
Fine Gael’s no-nonsense Cavan-Monaghan TD, 57, was heavily involved in the preparations for a feared no-deal Brexit in her role as business minister. Her attempts to reassure coronavirus crisis panic-buyers about supermarket supply lines may have fallen on deaf ears, but the work put in for no-deal preparations paid off in keeping food on our shelves. An Ulster Presbyterian, she was widely praised for her work in kicking off the decade of Centenaries commemorations when she was Culture minister. Her record over the last four years makes her an indispensable member of Cabinet for Fine Gael.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien
Darragh O’Brien, aged 47, is the Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal since 2016. He previously represented that area from 2007-2011 after which he narrowly lost his seat and moved to the Seanad where he served for five years. A native of Malahide he previously worked as an insurance company executive and was a high-profile and combative party spokesman on housing and also served as finance spokesman. He came into politics as a member of Fingal County Council in the 2004 local elections when he was among the younger successful candidates nationwide.
Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin
The Green Party deputy leader, 47, was first elected to the Dáil in 2016 for the Dublin Rathdown constituency two years after she won a seat on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. She easily retained the seat this year when her husband Francis Noel Duffy was also elected to the Dáil in neighbouring Dublin South-West. Her brother is Vincent P Martin, who narrowly missed out on a Dáil seat for the Greens in Kildare North.
The Monaghan native has served as the party’s education spokeswoman and spent over a decade teaching English and Music at St Tiernan’s Community School in Dundrum. She said she was inspired to join the Greens in 2007 following the birth of her first child.
Her decision to back the government deal was crucial to securing the support of many grassroots Greens and her popularity in the party puts her in a strong position to unseat Eamon Ryan and win the oddly-timed leadership contest that begins next week.
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly
Stephen Donnelly, 44, was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 after regularly appearing on current affairs shows where he would give polished analysis of the financial crash. At the time, Mr Donnelly was an ardent critic of Fianna Fail’s handling of the economic crisis and also took Fine Gael to task over their attempts to bring the country back from the brink of financial ruin. The former McKinsey management consultant formed the Social Democrats with fellow Independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall in 2015. All three returned to the Dail after the 2016 General Election but Mr Donnelly left the party later that year. He then joined Fianna Fáil and contested the recent election for the party.
Minister for Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris
The outgoing health minister, 33, is the great survivor from the last Cabinet. It was the prospect of a no-confidence vote in Mr Harris that prompted Leo Varadkar to call the election. During his time as health minister Mr Harris has had to deal with the annual trolley crisis, the spiralling cost of the Children’s Hospital, the cervical cancer screening scandal and now the Coivd-19 emergency. He backed the wrong horse in the Fine Gael leadership race but also achieved massive popularity in some quarters for his role in campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment on abortion. A move to an education role will be a relief from such a tumultuous time in health, where the youthful minister’s hair turned grey.
Chief Whip Dara Calleary
Dara Calleary, aged 47, is the Fianna Fáil deputy leader and a TD for Mayo since 2007. He went to primary and secondary school in his native Ballina before going to Trinity College Dublin to do a BA in business and politics.
He was national chairman of his party’s youth wing, Ógra Fianna Fáil, for a year soon after his election as a TD. In 2009 he was appointed junior enterprise minister as the economy badly foundered. Calleary regained his Dáil seat in 2011 as Fianna Fáil suffered huge losses. His father and grandfather were TDs for Mayo.
Attorney General, Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher SC is to serve a second spell as Attorney General having previously held the role between 2007 and 2011 under the Fianna Fáil-Green government. During that tumultuous period he offered legal advice on the bank guarantee, the establishment of Nama and the initial measures taken under the Troika bailout programme. Mr Gallagher has been practicing at the Irish Bar for 40 years and has been a senior counsel since 1991. More recently he has served as part of the State’s legal team in its challenge to the EU judgement that Apple owes the Irish exchequer over €13bn in back taxes.
Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett
The Green Party’s Pippa Hackett is the first Senator who will sit at Cabinet meetings since Fine Gael’s James Dooge served as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the early 1980s. She has been appointed as a ‘super junior’ minister in the Department of Agriculture and will have responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity. Her surprise appointment is a testament to her work on the agriculture section of the programme for government. She holds a BSc in Agriculture from Essex University and lives on a mixed organic farm with her four children and her husband Mark Hackett, who was co-opted to her Offaly County Council seat last year.
Minister of State in the Department of Transport with Responsibility for International and Road Travel and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughten
Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton ,43, could be the most unexpected promotion to Cabinet from Fine Gael amongst the general public. But it won’t surprise political insiders who have watched her star quietly rise as an effective chairperson of both the Communications and Climate Action committees. A keen singer outside Leinster House, her work as a TD has seen her campaign for online safety. He talent for striking compromise in committee work saw her recruited for Fine Gael’s government formation team. Her elevation to the Cabinet is reward for her steady work as a backbench TD.
Source: Irish News