One young man from each party plucked from the backbenches

Analysis: junior ranks remain mostly male, writes Mary Minihan

File image of Simon Harris at Leinster House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

File image of Simon Harris at Leinster House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 14:19

Our neighbours in Britain have had a Cabinet reshuffle because the government there was regarded, in that ungainly phrase, as “male, pale and stale”.

Here, the junior ministerial selection remains mostly male and in Fine Gael’s case, with no Dubliners elevated, all beyond the pale.

One young man from each Coalition party has been plucked from the backbenches to serve in important junior ministries.

Fine Gael TD for Wicklow Simon Harris, the Dáil’s youngest deputy, will fill the position vacated by the newly-elected MEP Brian Hayes.

The 27-year-old has been elevated to serve in the highly responsible position of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s right hand man. On the Labour side, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (37) will be a Minister of State in the Department of Justice.

Former senior Minister in that Department Alan Shatter did not feel he needed a junior Minister.

But Mr Ó Ríordáin (37) will serve under Fine Gael Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The pairing will give rise to the expectation of a “liberal” Department of Justice.

Surprisingly, there are no women junior ministers on the Fine Gael side.

Meath’s Regina Doherty would surely have had expectations, but the longer serving Damien English won out.

In Labour, the only new woman is Ann Phelan, from Carlow/Kilkenny. She nominated Joan Burton as Labour leader. Ms Burton recently spoke publicly about being adopted and brought up in Dublin. But her origins lie in Carlow, so the two women share that constituency link.

As expected, Kathleen Lynch remains in place having asked not to be elevated to Cabinet.

Another winner is Darragh Murphy from Cork North Central who has been rewarded for going out to bat for Fine Gael when the party faced a few sticky wickets.

He will fill the European post vacated by Paschal Donohoe, recently appointed Minister for Transport.

The march of Sinn Féin is obviously on Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s mind. Dinny McGinley from Donegal was one of those he sacked - something he finds difficult to do - but Joe McHugh will take up the junior ministerial reins in the county.

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