No concern about regional balance in new cabinet, minister says

No concern about regional balance in new cabinet, minister says
Newly-appointed Minister for Rural Affairs, Heather Humphreys, says she's satisfied that the border region and the west are represented in the new government, despite the fact that most of the new cabinet members come from Leinster.  Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Ireland's newly-appointed Rural Affairs Minister, Heather Humphreys, has said that she doesn't think there's any concern about a lack of regional balance in the new cabinet.

Taoiseach Michael Martin hasn't appointed anyone from Connacht, the Southeast, or the Northwest to any the top jobs in his new cabinet.

Nine of the fifteen ministers come from Dublin and the neighbouring counties of Meath and Wicklow.

But speaking on Newstalk this afternoon, Minister Heather Humphreys insisted there is a good regional spread in the new cabinet:

“I’m satisfied that the border region and the west are well-represented.

“Of course there are a good number of cabinet ministers from the city, but at the end of the day that was a decision that had to be made in terms of putting the right people into the right jobs, and I think that that’s important too.” 

However, one rural TD has expressed concern at how the west of Ireland can be suitably represented by a cabinet made up of a majority of urban ministers.

Galway East's Sean Canney says there needs to be an emphasis on regional fairness within the new government:

"The idea that the west of Ireland can be represented from within the pale, it is worrying.

“Coupled with the fact that the department of community and rural development have been demoted and mixed in with another department.

“I have a serious concern as to what voice we will have when the money that will be there, and obviously the limited funds that will be there, how the West and how the regions will fare,” he said.

Galway East TD Sean Canney believes that the West of Ireland could be underrepresented in the new Government.
Galway East TD Sean Canney believes that the West of Ireland could be underrepresented in the new Government.

"We want to make sure that the West of Ireland and the regions from Donegal down to Kerry, again you look at Waterford, Wexford, no representation, Louth, no representation.

"We have too much of a concentration in my mind, of senior ministers in the Dublin Wicklow, Meath area, and down in Cork - there’s three in one area in Cork," he added

There has also been reaction to the total number of women who will be part of the new cabinet.

Just four of the fifteen ministers appointed to cabinet yesterday are women.

Orla O'Connor, Director of The National Women's Council of Ireland says there's no excuse for including so many men in government:

“The fact is, women make up over half the population and there’s absolutely no reason why at senior level, whether in politics or at all sectors of society, that women need to be in those places in order to reflect the society we live in.

“So its critically important that the government make this a priority, and that all of the Ministers do, in terms of their roles.”

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