Micheál Martin: I will lead a government for the entire country

Micheál Martin: I will lead a government for the entire country

The Taoiseach has insisted he will lead a “government for the entire country” amid criticism about the geographic make-up of the cabinet.

Micheál Martin defended the process of appointing ministers after his party’s deputy leader, Dara Calleary, expressed anger and disappointment at being overlooked for a senior cabinet position.

“We are a government for the entire country and that’s a very important point,” Fianna Fáil leader Mr Martin told a post cabinet news conference.

Mayo TD Mr Calleary was appointed government chief whip by Mr Martin following the formation of the historic Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party coalition administration on Saturday.

He will sit at cabinet but does not have a vote.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary (right) said he is disappointed at being overlooked for a senior role in the new coalition government (PA)
Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary (right) said he is disappointed at being overlooked for a senior role in the new coalition government (PA)

Some voters and political activists in the west of Ireland have portrayed it as a snub and claim it is evidence of the west of Ireland being overlooked when it came to cabinet positions.

While Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton has been appointed as a super junior minister in the coalition, none of the senior jobs went to anyone from the west of the country.

The new government has also faced criticism over the gender make-up of the cabinet, with only four full ministerial roles occupied by women.

The three parties are set to face further scrutiny on gender and geography later in the week when they appoint several non-cabinet ministers of state.

Mr Martin was pressed on the issues after the first full meeting of cabinet on Monday.

Newly elected cabinet of the 33rd Dail (Julien Behal/PA)
Newly elected cabinet of the 33rd Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

On Mr Calleary, he insisted chief whip was a “very important position”, particularly as there were three parties to manage in the new government.

“It is very difficult and I think there will be quite a number of people who will be very, very disappointed that they didn’t make the cabinet table,” said Mr Martin.

“And I know quite a number of people in the party who will be upset by that but we have a limited choice, each party leader has a limited number to appoint and calls have to be made.”

He added: “Unfortunately every time a cabinet is appointed there will be disappointment.”

Fine Gael has also faced claims of ignoring the west after former minister Michael Ring, a TD for Mayo, was not reappointed to a cabinet post.

Leo Varadkar at the cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle (Julien Behal/PA).
Leo Varadkar at the cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle (Julien Behal/PA).

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said all ministers must have a nationwide focus.

“All ministers have a national remit,” he said.

“Any minister whose major focus is their own constituency or their own region is actually neglecting most of the country, so ministers must have a national emit and that’s the way I would certainly expect all ministers to think.”

Earlier on Monday, Mr Calleary said Saturday’s conversation with Mr Martin was “incredibly difficult”.

“It wasn’t the weekend I expected,” he told Midwest Radio.

“There weren’t any other jobs on the table offered to me.

“We had a very difficult conversation and I told him I was disappointed.

“I had hoped to lead a department, that has always been my ambition and it is still my ambition today, and it will happen, it will absolutely happen.”

The Fianna Fáil stalwart said he plans to make the most of the job he has been given and be a “loud voice” for the west of Ireland at cabinet.

Mr Calleary said he had been “blown away” by the messages of support from constituents since Saturday.

He acknowledged there is a lot of anger in the west.

“I hear that anger, I understand that anger, I am going to take that anger on and turn it into action,” he said.

“I am going to take that anger on and let it drive me on around the Cabinet table to turn that into action.

“I was that angry person yesterday and I am going to dust it down and make the most of this.”

More on this topic

Paul Hosford: In an extraordinary year, Barry Cowen's sacking marks an extraordinary dayPaul Hosford: In an extraordinary year, Barry Cowen's sacking marks an extraordinary day

Micheál Martin sacks Barry Cowen after further issues raised Micheál Martin sacks Barry Cowen after further issues raised

Barry Cowen: I did not try to evade GardaBarry Cowen: I did not try to evade Garda

Gardaí break up scuffles between protesters in DublinGardaí break up scuffles between protesters in Dublin