Tony Killeen: appointment an 'enormous honour'


NEWLY APPOINTED Minister for Defence Tony Killeen said people in his Clare constituency would now expect to have issues concerning them “ventilated at Cabinet level”.

Mr Killeen, from Corofin, Co Clare, said it was an “enormous honour” to have been appointed to the position left vacant by Willie O’Dea’s resignation. He said he intended to build on the “very solid foundation” laid by the former minister in the department.

“It’s a particular honour to work with the Defence Forces and the Irish Army is hugely respected internationally, particularly for its work with the United Nations,” he said.

Mr Killeen has spoken publicly about his experience of bowel cancer as part of an Irish Cancer Society campaign. Diagnosed with the disease in 2008, he had surgery and completed a course of chemotherapy.

Yesterday he said he hoped people dealing with cancer, and their families, would be encouraged by his personal experience.

Mr Killeen is a former national school teacher who was educated at St Flannan’s College in Ennis and Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College of Education.Now 57 and married with five sons, he regularly attends GAA matches.

First elected to the Dáil in 1992, he was appointed minister of state at the department of agriculture, fisheries and food in April 2009 and given special responsibility for fisheries and food.

Among the Ministers of State, he was the leading contender for promotion to the Cabinet and his appointment as Minister for Defence had been anticipated.

He has also served as minister of state at the department of enterprise, trade and employment between 2004 and 2007. He was appointed minister of state at the department of communications, energy and natural resources, and the department of environment, heritage and local government, in June 2007.

Mr Killeen is one of two Fianna Fáil TDs in the four-seat Clare constituency.

Asked how his constituents would react to his portfolio, Mr Killeen said people in Clare would probably have a “dual perspective”.

He added: “They will have the perspective in relation to the national picture . . . and they will also, I think, have an expectation that issues that concern them in the region will be ventilated at Cabinet level and I think they’ll welcome that.”