Michael Ring to speak in Dáil, seven months after appointment

Minister for Rural and Community Development to answer first questions on his portfolio

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring who will answer parliamentary questions for the first time on Tuesday following his appointment seven months ago. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring who will answer parliamentary questions for the first time on Tuesday following his appointment seven months ago. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Michael Ring will take his first question time as Minister for Rural and Community Development this afternoon when the Dáil returns after the Christmas recess.

Seven months after he was appointed to the role, the Minister will finally get to answer questions on his portfolio.

It follows the lengthy resolution of legal and administrative changes required in untangling his remit from the old department of arts, heritage, regional, rural and gaeltacht affairs, to create the first dedicated rural and community development department.

Mr Ring had been subject to some jibes from Fianna Fáil rural and community affairs spokesman Eamon Ó Cuív who before Christmas expressed concern at the Minister’s lack of visibility in the Dáil.

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In one contribution Mr Ó Cuív said: “Some days, he must wonder whether he is really a Minister at all because he has a department without function and money . . . Interestingly, he’s not even listed for oral questions. I have seen the list until Christmas.”

“For some reason, the Government doesn’t treat him as a senior player. He is not considered a senior hurler and the Government is not giving him any questions.”

Quoting Mr Ring, the Fianna Fáil spokesman said “he is chomping at the bit. He told me he is absolutely crazy to come in and answer some questions.”

Mr Ring has been contacted by The Irish Times for comment.

The energetic Co Mayo Minister’s career blossomed when Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach and appointed him to the new portfolio of rural and community development.

Mr Varadkar decided he needed a strong presence in Cabinet on rural issues. The Taoiseach also had previous experience working with Mr Ring when both served under former taoiseach Enda Kenny, with Mr Varadkar as minister for transport, tourism and sport and Mr Ring as his minister of state for sport.