Daniel McConnell: Charlie McConalogue —The quiet man who has a chance to shine 

Charlie McConalogue is often referred to as the quiet man of Irish politics.
Daniel McConnell: Charlie McConalogue —The quiet man who has a chance to shine 

Newly appointed Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue leaving the Convention Centre Dublin during a Dáil session. File picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Charlie McConalogue is often referred to as the quiet man of Irish politics.

His understated persona is at odds with his heavy-hitting presence, he held when he rose to the heights in student politics in UCD back in the late 1990s.

As education officer in the students’ union, Mr McConalogue was a leading and forceful light in the Kevin Barry Cumann, the Belfield-based Fianna Fáil organisation.

A native of Gleneely in Donegal, Mr McConalogue graduated with a BA in economics, history and politics in 2000 and, after college, worked for Fianna Fáil as a regional organiser in their head office.

He also spent time in Australia before returning home to work on the family farm before running in the local elections in 2009, when he was elected as a Donegal county councillor.

He emerged as a potential candidate for the party in 2011 and, against the tide of national obliteration for Fianna Fáil, won a seat at the first time of asking.

In his early days, Mr McConalogue said his main priorities included the development of infrastructure in Donegal “with regards to roads, broadband and a sustainable health service for the people of the county”.

After topping the poll in the 2016 general election, he was appointed as Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine.

As a farmer himself, he acquitted himself well in marking Michael Creed in the agriculture beat and following the Brexit referendum in 2016, Mr McConalogue was seen as an important voice as to the impact of the UK decision to leave the EU on the border counties.

He too has repeatedly articulated the plight of farmers combating falling prices

Aged 42 and married to Jackie with two young sons, Mr McConalogue held his seat at the second time of asking in February, thus bringing him into contention for ministerial preferment by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Surprisingly moved into the post of junior Justice Minister, McConalogue now takes over in agriculture with the explicit need to avoid having to resign or being sacked.

Not hostile to the media but not as open as some of his colleagues, Mr McConalogue is likely to continue his way of doing things under the radar.

It is a big step up for the Donegal man but his supporters have said he is more than equal to the task.

It also spoke volumes that his appointment was widely accepted and supported within Fianna Fáil.

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