More than half of Fine Gael become ministers after junior position reshuffle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has made more than half of his parliamentary party ministers after a reshuffle of junior positions, in which Fine Gael rebels were shunned.

Mr Kenny justified increasing the number of junior ministers from 15 to 18 and said the move allowed for a stronger emphasis on specific areas, including health, which will now have four junior ministers in office.

Several younger TDs have been promoted to the role of ministers.

As expected though, there were also a number of disappointed TDs who had been tipped to be appointed to positions.

Opposition figures immediately also seized on the increased number of junior positions — particularly given the fact that Fine Gael has fewer TDs after the general election.

Mr Kenny reappointed junior ministers Michael Ring, Damien English, and Joe McHugh but changed their positions.

The Taoiseach assigned them responsibility for regional development, housing, the diaspora, and overseas aid respectively.

Cork TD Dara Murphy was re-appointed to the junior role of European affairs minister.

Elsewhere, three female TDs were given junior ministerial responsibilities, including Helen McEntee (mental health), Marcella Corcoran Kennedy (health promotion), and Catherine Byrne (drugs).

As expected, Independent TDs John Halligan and Seán Canney both received positions in education and the Office of Public Works respectively.

The latter will also oversee floor relief works.

A number of TDs from the backbenches were also promoted including Andrew Doyle (food), Seán Kyne (Gaeltacht), and Pat Breen (small business).

Patrick O’Donovan takes over in sports and Eoghan Murphy was appointed the prestigious role of junior finance minister.

David Stanton — the former justice committee chairman — was also given the position of junior justice minister in charge of equality and immigration.

The appointments come after Mr Kenny’s previous appointments of Regina Doherty as government chief whip, Finian McGrath as a super junior minister overseeing disability, and Paul Kehoe in defence.

This brings to 18 the number of junior ministers appointed.

The promotions mean that 27 of the 50 Fine Gael TDs are now senior and junior ministers.

However, a number of TDs who were tipped for promotion were left disappointed.

Cork South West TD Jim Daly said: “That’s politics, you take the ups and the downs, I made no secret of the fact that I would have loved to have been a junior minister, so of course I am disappointed.”

Another veteran TD — who refused to be named — also noted that those who had previously criticised the Government in the past or Mr Kenny, had been left out in the cold.

The TD noted: “[The Taoiseach] didn’t appear to appoint anyone to a junior ministry who speaks their mind.”


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