Fine Gael stalwart Charlie Flanagan rewarded with Cabinet role

If patience is a virtue then the Minister for Children has had 27 years to hone it

Newly-appointed Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan at Arás an Uachtarain where he received his seal of office. Photograph: Collins

Newly-appointed Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan at Arás an Uachtarain where he received his seal of office. Photograph: Collins

 

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan has been given a full Cabinet portfolio as his first ministerial posting 27 years after being first-elected to the Dáil.

His appointment came as a surprise, if not a total shock, given he was a senior frontbencher in Fine Gael before opposing Enda Kenny as party leader in the June 2010 heave.

Mr Flanagan, then the party’s justice spokesman, was one of the senior Fine Gael TDs who challenged Mr Kenny’s leadership.

There was a sense after the unsuccessful challenge that Mr Flanagan’s ambitions of a senior ministry would never be achieved while Mr Kenny remained leader, and he took on the position of chairman of the parliamentary party.

Usually a low key role, Mr Flanagan used it to good effect to advance his arguments in the media and to speak on behalf of Fine Gael TDs and Senators.

He is regarded as an experienced communicator and a safe pair of hands.

The 57-year-old TD for Laois-Offaly is a member of a family which has represented the constituency in the Dáil since 1943. His father Oliver J Flanagan was an old-style conservative Fine Gael deputy, who briefly served as minister for defence in the late 1970s.

Mr Flanagan, married to Mary McCormack and a father of two daughters, qualified as a solicitor and was first elected to the Dáil in 1987 on his father’s retirement. He lost his seat in the Fine Gael meltdown of 2002.


Passed over
He retrieved the seat in 2007 and was comfortably re-elected in 2011 but was passed over by Mr Kenny for senior and junior ministerial office. He was unanimously elected chairman of the parliamentary party.

Such was his success in the role, Fine Gael TDs yesterday suggested there will be numerous candidates to take up the chairmanship to capitalise on the platform built by Mr Flanagan.

He has served in many positions in Opposition, including stints as health spokesman and party whip.

Mr Flanagan’s views are neither conservative nor notably liberal on social issues. He recently said calls by an Oireachtas committee to recognise the Traveller community as an ethnic group had an air of “political correctness”.