FF to block Mary Mitchell O’Connor appointment as ‘super junior’

Source says role designed to ‘ease the pain of a demotion’

 Mary Mitchell O’Connor receiving her seal of office from  President Michael D Higgins. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar looks on. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Mary Mitchell O’Connor receiving her seal of office from President Michael D Higgins. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar looks on. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil will not support legislation to create a third super junior role for Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Ms O’Connor was appointed as a Minister of State with responsibility for higher education in Wednesday’s re-shuffle by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. The position will allow her to sit at the Cabinet table.

However legislation will be required if she is to take the increased salary for the super junior role and Fianna Fáil and Labour have both stated they would not support such a move.

A Fianna Fáil source said this was not a personal attack on Ms O’Connor but could not support the appointment of a third super junior minister.

Leo Varadkar's new cabinet



Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach



Enda Kenny

Retiring



Michael Noonan

Retiring



Frances Fitzgerald

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation


Richard Bruton

Education and Skills


Simon Coveney

Foreign Affairs and Trade, with special responsibility for Brexit


Charlie Flanagan

Justice and Equality


Paschal Donohoe

Public Expenditure and Reform


Heather Humphries

Arts, Heritage and Culture


Simon Harris

Health


Michael Creed

Agriculture, Food and the Marine


Denis Naughten

Communications, Climate Action and Environment


Shane Ross

Transport, Tourism and Sport



Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Demoted



Katherine Zappone

Children and Youth Affairs



Eoghan Murphy

Housing, Planning and Local Government



Michael Ring

Community and Rural Affairs

Regina Doherty

Employment and Social Protection

“There is no appetite from us to support legislation that is only required because Leo Varadkar needed to ease the pain of a demotion.”

The Oireachtas would have to pass legislation to create the position for a third super junior. The existing legislation says the Taoiseach can appoint a maximum of two super junior ministers who can sit at the Cabinet table.

The legislation provides for an extra €16,288-a-year allowance in addition to the Minister of State salary of €124,439. Paul Kehoe and Finian McGrath are currently super juniors.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin called on Mr Varadkar, to outline how he will address the issue. Mr Howlin said: “Is he suggesting that one super-junior Minister will be paid less than the others, creating a second tier of such positions?

“Or does he really propose to prioritise legislation to give extra pay increases to Ministers at a time when there are plenty of other issues that should be prioritised?”

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said any legislation in relation to the third super junior position was “a long way down the line”.

“There is a whole array of legislative matters that need to be dealt with first”, he told the RTÉ radio.