Micheál Martin set to promote women TDs to top team
Party to address lack of female TDs in last Dáil with three or four on front bench
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: there are mixed views about what he should do with outspoken Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness. File photograph: Aidan Crawley
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is expected to promote a number of women TDs to his front bench to counter one of his party’s weaknesses in the last Dáil.
Mr Martin is also tipped to reward TDs who brought in a running mate at the general election, while seeking to improve Fianna Fáil’s image in Dublin, when he announces his 18-strong senior team next week.
The party suffered during the last Dáil because of a lack of female representation, with no women TDs elected at the 2011 general election.
Mr Martin will attempt to rectify this, with three or four women to be appointed to the front bench.
There are six female Fianna Fáil TDs, and Catherine Ardagh, who narrowly lost out on a Dáil seat in Dublin South-Central, was recently selected as party leader in the Seanad, a position that is likely to place her on the front bench.
Galway East’s Anne Rabbitte is tipped by party insiders for a senior position, while Kildare South’s Fiona O’Loughlin has already been appointed as an assistant party whip.
Negotiating teamFine Gael
Another member of the negotiating team whose standing has risen in the party is Offaly’s Barry Cowen, who was environment spokesman in the last Dáil.
It is understood the Fine Gael side, particularly Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, rated Mr Cowen’s input during the talks, and sources suggested Mr Cowen may remain in his brief, marking Minister for Housing Simon Coveney.
Mixed viewsPublic Accounts Committee
Those in line for promotion to the front bench are two TDs who were elected to the Dáil from the Seanad: Meath East’s Thomas Byrne and Dublin Fingal’s Darragh O’Brien. Mr Byrne is a consistent media performer and Mr O’Brien will increase the Fianna Fáil profile in the capital.
Another Dublin TD expected to be promoted is Dublin Bay South’s Jim O’Callaghan, also a member of the party’s negotiating team.
Limerick TD Niall Collins is currently the justice spokesman and is understood to be keen to keep his portfolio. Sources suggested Mr O’Callaghan, a senior counsel, could be placed in foreign affairs if Mr Collins is to stay put.
Mr Martin is also expected to reward TDs who brought in a running mate at the election, such as Dara Calleary in Mayo and Charlie McConalogue in Donegal. Mr Calleary served as jobs spokesman in the last Dáil and is seen as a strong contender for the public expenditure and reform portfolio. Laois TD Seán Fleming, the outgoing public expenditure spokesman, is understood to be keen on a switch. Mr McConalogue was also a member of the negotiating team.
Another in line for reward is Cork North-Central’s Billy Kelleher, who was director of elections and health spokesman in the last Dáil.