Martin acknowledges disappointment from many on missing out on minister jobs

The Fianna Fáil leader says there was a lot of expectation from members after 10 years not being in Government

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin emergingfrom the Convention Centre after being elected as Taoiseach. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has acknowledged many in Fianna Fáil were disappointed at missing out on ministerial appointments.

However, he said his hands were tied because there were only a limited number of places available to his party for him to share out.

“I knew in advance that the day I would be making those ministerial appointments that the honeymoon would end very quickly because simply there are not enough positions to allocate,” he said.

“I think the fact that Fianna Fáil were not in government for 10 years (meant) there was a lot of pent up desire and expectation from an individual and personal point of view that they would get ministerial office.


“But there were five ministerial offices, senior ministerial offices to allocate and there were eight junior ministers after that, and clearly people were going to be disappointed. And people were disappointed and I understand that.”

Mr Martin was responding to a question by host, PJ Coogan on The Opinion Line on Cork's 96FM about comments made by Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan about his anger at being passed over for promotion.

Mr Moynihan accused Mr Martin of “disrespecting both him and his community” after being overlooked for a junior ministry, particularly in light of the fact he had “taken a lot of s**t” for Mr Martin over the years.

But Mr Martin was unapologetic on the show. He said he accepted that people like Mr Moynihan and others were angry, and didn’t make any secret of it but he had to look at a bigger picture.

“I would make the point we can’t take our focus off what the key issues are for the general public and the people out there, which is to continue to suppress Covid and I’m focused on that,” he said.

Mr Martin said his primary focus now was dealing with Covid-19, ensuring the schools could reopen fully and safely at the end of August, and managing the jobs stimulus programme, which is being unveiled later this month.

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher (L) with party leader Micheál Martin (R) at the launch of the FF election campaign in 2016. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Asked about the attendance of Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher at the Convention Centre to see Mr Martin elected Taoiseach contrary to advice on Covid-19, Mr Martin said he wasn't very aware of Mr Kelleher's attendance.

“To be honest, you can appreciate that I was kind of ushered in when I came down to the centre and it didn’t register with me on the day. On the day, Mary and the family couldn’t come up because of the Covid restrictions.”

Mr Martin said Mr Kelleher had acknowledged that he should not have attended the Dáil sitting in the Convention Centre and that he had since apologised for his actions.

"No, I didn't know (Mr Kelleher was attending). I hadn't thought the MEPs would be there at all because they had just started going back to Brussels because, as you know, they weren't meeting either physically for some time."

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times