Calleary named as Agriculture Minister after Cowen sacking

Calleary named as Agriculture Minister after Cowen sacking
Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary during a session of Dail Eireann at the Convention Centre, Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

A mini-reshuffle of ministers has seen Mayo TD Dara Calleary elevated to the Cabinet table as the new Agriculture Minister.

He will replace Barry Cowen, who was sacked from the role yesterday after refusing a request by Taoiseach Micheál Martin to face questions before the Dail on his drink-driving record.

The fallout has seen questions raised about what Mr Martin knew about the incident.

The Fianna Fáil leader has told the Dáil that he is nominating Dara Calleary, currently government chief whip, to the position of Agriculture Minister.

Mr Calleary had expressed disappointment when overlooked for a senior Cabinet role last month when the three-party coalition was formed.

The Mayo TDs appointment will also put to rest questions over why there was a lack of representation for the west of Ireland at Cabinet.

Mr Martin also announced that the role of chief whip will be filled by Dublin-West TD Jack Chambers, who will move up from his current role as a junior finance minister.

Laois-Offaly TD Sean Fleming will in turn fill that role, coming from the backbenches.

Praising Mr Calleary, Mr Martin said that he would be a very “effective minister” in a role that would include looking at the EU budget, CAP payments and supports for farmers.

But the opposition continued to raise questions about the sacking of Mr Cowen and the whole debacle surrounding his drink driving incident in 2016.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said outstanding questions remained, as did Labour leader Alan Kelly.

Ms McDonald said that the controversy signified that it was “the same old Fianna Fáil, “dodging and being less than fullsome” with accounts to the Dáil and people.

The Dáil needed to discuss Covid-19, housing and childcare and instead was debating a political controversy about the coalition, she said.

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