Geography will be key to coalition government's junior-minister appointments

Geography will be key to coalition government's junior-minister appointments
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, arriving at a cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle.

The new Government is set to name its junior ministers today — with geography high on the criteria.

Keen to right the 'wrongs' from the weekend when the three party leaders announced the cabinet which had no representative from the west coast, it's widely expected that some old faces and overlooked counties will be back in the running.

The three leaders met late yesterday to iron out portfolios and roles. A further meeting is expected on Wednesday. It is also understood they were trying to assess positions and department functions in light of the backlash over the lack of representation in the West.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar yesterday accepted that it is "very unusual" for there to be no Cabinet ministers from west of the River Shannon and said junior ministries will redress the balance.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have seven junior ministries each, with the Green Party receiving three.

In Fianna Fáil it's widely expected that two of the TDs to be chosen for junior ministries are Anne Rabbitte and Mary Butler. 

It was noted that both women would represent a geographical area lacking in representation in senior roles — Galway and Waterford respectively.

Sources say that Rabbitte was incredibly disappointed she had been left out of cabinet last week after putting in "serious work" during government formation negotiations and had voiced as much to party colleagues.

Ms Butler is said to be "quietly hopeful", along with colleagues Jack Chambers, Thomas Byrne, Niall Collins, Robert Troy and Charlie McConalogue, who are all seen as favourites.

A Fianna Fáil source said the TDs had "heard nothing" on Tuesday.

"There's 11 or 12 that could be in the running for the seven jobs going," the source said.

"We've the issue with the spread in the west for cabinet, and in the southeast, there's no one, that will need to be factored in too, that's in Waterford, Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Wexford. 

Cabinet is meeting at two and won't meet again until next week, so everybody talking about it among ourselves, but there's been no formal indications. It's the same as Saturday, Barry Cowen didn't even know by half past three he was getting a ministry, so tomorrow won't be any different."

"Micheál is playing it very close to his chest."

Fine Gael is expected to name party stalwarts, Martin Heydon and Peter Burke, to junior roles, with former ministers Josepha Madigan and Joe McHugh also expected to get the nod, as are hard-working TDs Damien English and Colm Brophy.

Leo Varadkar is also expected to give junior roles to Kerry's Brendan Griffin and Dublin-Rathdown's Josepha Madigan.

For the Greens, TDs Ossian Smyth, Joe O'Brien, Brian Leddin have been rumoured for the posts after performing well in the government formation talks, and are seen as loyal to leader Eamon Ryan. 

It has been speculated that in an effort to reunite the party after a divisive few weeks of in-fighting over whether to back the Programme for Government, Mr Ryan will appoint Francis Noel Duffy or Neasa Hourigan in an effort to reach out to those who voiced concern about entering government, after both had rejected the deal. 

Ms Hourigan has previously stated she would be interested in such a role, despite her misgivings about the document.

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