Junior ministers selected by ‘personalities and geography’

Former junior ministers have spoken of the confusing nature of serving in Government and of the challenges faced by ministers of state when in their posts.

Junior ministers selected by ‘personalities and geography’

Former minister for European affairs Lucinda Creighton yesterday criticised the junior ministerial reshuffle made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week.

Ms Creighton said the present system for junior ministers was “completely wrong”, where they were paired off with senior ministers and there was competition between parties.

“It should be a team that is committed to implementing the stated clear objectives that were agreed by both parties in the Programme for Government,” said Ms Creighton.

“It’s all about personalities and geography and gender and I think that’s sad.”

She said ministers often did not attend management meetings in their departments, as this was overseen by civil servants.

Her comments come after criticism of Mr Kenny’s junior ministerial reshuffle last week, where no female Fine Gael TDs were appointed as junior ministers.

Mr Kenny also appointed Joe McHugh, a Donegal TD non-fluent in Irish, as Gaeltacht Minister, despite the fact that he must learn Irish over the summer to settle into his new job.

“It seems to me to be more about filling slots and getting people in on the basis of geography rather than who is the right fit for the right job and how do we ensure that we maximise the potential of this Government to perform on behalf of the Irish people,” said Ms Creighton.

Ms Creighton, expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for opposing the abortion legislation, said she did not subscribe to the logic that “you suck up until you get the leg up”.

“TDs need to look into their own souls and make decisions on what they think the right thing is to do, not on the basis of their own political advancement but on the basis of what’s the best thing for the country,” she said.

Former junior education minister Conor Lenihan said reshuffles come about because of a downturn in a Government’s poll rating or the need to rejuvenate an administration.

In the Sunday Business Post, the former Fianna Fáil TD wrote: “The minister of state, in particular, plays a particular part in our political system.

“They are frequently either disliked or frowned upon by their senior ministers for whom they are unwelcome guests in the department which they control.”

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