Leaders spark anger as they look west for junior minister carve-up

Several TDs from west get posts, but not everyone in the parties has been placated

The leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have sought to rectify the regional imbalance of their ministerial appointments with a series of new junior ministers drawn from the western seaboard.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar were criticised in recent days after the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party coalition Cabinet contained no senior ministers from the west.

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens appointed a total of 20 ministers: eight each for the larger parties and four for the Greens.

Each party had already announced one “super junior” – junior ministers who sit at the Cabinet table but have no vote – over the weekend.


Fianna Fáil now has four junior ministers from the west coast: Limerick's Niall Collins, the Minister of State for Skills, Donegal's Charlie McConalogue, the Minister of State for Law Reform, Galway East's Anne Rabbitte, the Minister of State for Disability Issues, and Government Chief Whip Dara Calleary, the super junior who has also now been given responsibility for Sport and the Gaeltacht.

Fine Gael ministers of state from the west include Limerick's Patrick O'Donovan, the Minister of State for the OPW, Galway West's Hildegarde Naughton, who is also a "super junior", for Transport, and Sligo-Leitrim TD Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy.

For the Greens, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan chose Dublin Fingal TD Joe O'Brien as Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Dún Laoghaire's Ossian Smyth as Minister of State for Procurement, and Carlow-Kilkenny's Malcolm Noonan at the Department of Housing and Local Government.

Green senator Pippa Hackett had already been appointed a super junior.


Mr Martin, however, provoked anger among some with his selections, with Cork North West TD and Fianna Fáil whip Michael Moynihan accusing his leader of insulting him personally and of insulting his community by failing to give him a junior ministerial post.

Dublin Bay South Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan turned down a junior position in the Department of Justice, and Fine Gael Donegal TD Joe McHugh also turned down a junior portfolio. Carlow-Kilkenny's John Paul Phelan told Mr Varadkar he would not serve as deputy government whip, as requested by the Taoiseach.

The other appointments for Fianna Fáil are Meath East's Thomas Byrne as Minister of State for European Affairs, Dublin West's Jack Chambers as Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Waterford's Mary Butler as Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, and Longford-Westmeath's Robert Troy as Minister of State for Trade Promotion.

For Fine Gael, Peter Burke of Longford-Westmeath is Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Dublin South West's Colm Brophy is Minister of State for Overseas Aid and the Diaspora, Meath West's Damien English is Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Affairs, Kildare North's Martin Heydon is Minister of State for Agriculture, and Dublin Rathdown's Josepha Madigan is Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion.