At the same time, Mr Ahern also appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen to be his deputy leader of the Fianna Fáil party. The appointment strengthens Mr Cowen’s credentials as a potential successor and is a break with party tradition which usually saw the deputy leader as an elder figure not seen as a future leader.
The Taoiseach re-appointed former Northern Ireland Ombudsman Dr Maurice Hayes as the informal representative of the Northern community. Also moving to the Upper House, as expected, is the former Public Enterprise Minister and Fianna Fáil deputy leader, Mary O’Rourke, who lost her seat in the Dáil election on May 17.
The four Progressive Democrat nominations, which were part of the FF-PD Coalition deal, go to long-time Senator John Dardis of Kildare South and his neighbouring Kildare-North colleague and PD newcomer Kate Walsh. The others go to PD party chairman John Minihan of Cork North Central and Tom Morrissey of Dublin West who each contested seats for the Dáil election.
Other FF nominees, who lost out in the May 17 election, are Michael Kitt of Galway East and Brendan Kenneally of Waterford along with former Co Offaly Senator Pat Moylan.
Nominees of those deemed to be upcoming Dáil prospects include Cyprian Brady, one of Mr Ahern’s Dublin Central team, and Michael Brennan of Limerick West, who stood as an independent in the 1997 general election.
Mr Ahern’s 11 nominations to the Upper House fulfils his duty under the 1937 Constitution and completes the naming of all 60 Senators.
Last week the election of 43 members chosen by councillors and Oireachtas members was completed as was the election of six university senators from the National University of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin panel.