Micheál Martin reveals Fianna Fáil frontbench lineup

Leader says he has blended experience and energy but SF says ‘Fine Gael B team’ unveiled

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is  unveiling his frontbench this afternoon. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is unveiling his frontbench this afternoon. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has unveiled his frontbench for the 32nd Dáil. There are 17 male deputies and five female politicians in the in the 22 person team.

Jim O’Callaghan, a senior counsel and first time TD, will serve as justice spokesman, taking over the brief from Niall Collins who was a regular media presence for the party but will now focus on the subjects of enterprise and jobs.

Robert Troy will be responsible for shadowing Minister Shane Ross in the transport area and Thomas Byrne, who regained his Dáil seat in Meath East after a stint in the Seanad, will be education spokesman.

Fianna Fáil’s former Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien will take on the foreign affairs brief with Senator Catherine Ardagh taking on his former role in the upper house.

Barry Cowen, Billy Kelleher and Michael McGrath remain in their respective portfolios of housing, health and finance.

Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte is taking over the portfolio of children, where she will shadow Katherine Zappone.

Mayo TD Dara Calleary moves from enterprise to shadowing Minister Pascal Donohoe in the area of public expenditure and reform.

‘Reform agenda’

Mr Martin said his party had “driven forward the political reform agenda” after the election and facilitated the establishment of a minority Government with a confidence and supply agreement.

“The potential now exists for a parliament where good ideas can flourish and where good law, no matter where it originates, can be supported by a majority of representatives on a cross-party basis and can be enacted,” he said.

Mr Martin said he had sought to blend experience and new energy, “drawing on the diverse talents of our newly enlarged Dáil party”.

“We will be a responsible and constructive opposition party, supporting Government initiatives which we believe to be in the best interests of the nation, but resolutely opposing those we do not. Where we oppose, we will be bringing forward what we believe to be better and fairer alternatives and working to build consensus in this new Dáil.”

Mr Martin said the Government was wrong to abolish the role of minister for defence and “in downgrading the prominence of the arts”.

“For that reason I am appointing dedicated spokespeople to address both these portfolios. Given the crises unfolding in both areas, I am also appointing specific spokespeople on disability and mental health.”

‘B Team’

Following the announcement, Sinn Féin described the Fianna Fáil front bench as the “Fine Gael B Team”.

“Having crafted the programme for government Fianna Fáil have tried to pull the ultimate political stroke by sitting on the opposition benches while Fine Gael implements its plan,” TD Jonathan O’Brien said.

“It is clear that Fianna Fáil cannot play the lead role in opposition while facilitating and rubber stamping everything coming from government. The real opposition front bench was announced by Gerry Adams last week. ”

The full Fianna Fáil frontbench line-up is as follows

Leader and spokesperson on Northern Ireland: Micheál Martin

Fianna Fáil whip: Michael Moynihan

Spokesperson on finance: Michael McGrath

Spokesperson on public expenditure and reform: Dara Calleary

Spokesperson on foreign affairs and trade: Darragh O’Brien

Spokesperson on regional development, rural affairs and the Gaeltacht: Éamon Ó Cuív

Spokesperson on jobs, enterprise and innovation: Niall Collins

Spokesperson on education and skills: Thomas Byrne

Spokesperson on social protection: Willie O’Dea

Spokesperson on housing, planning and local government: Barry Cowen

Spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine: Charlie McConalogue

Spokesperson on transport, tourism and sport : Robert Troy

Spokesperson on communications, environment and natural resources: Timmy Dooley

Spokesperson on health: Billy Kelleher

Spokesperson on children and youth affairs: Anne Rabbitte

Spokesperson on justice and equality: Jim O’Callaghan

Spokesperson on defence: Lisa Chambers

Spokesperson on arts and heritage: Niamh Smyth

Spokesperson on disability: Margaret Murphy O’Mahoney

Spokesperson on mental health: James Browne

Spokesperson on Dublin : John Lahart

Fianna Fáil leader in the Seanad: Catherine Ardagh