Anger in Labour ranks as women lose out
Published 10/03/2011 | 05:00
THERE was some anger in the Labour Party last night after Joan Burton was perceived to have been one of the losers of the cabinet appointments -- with fellow female TD Roisin Shortall also losing out.
Some deputies said it seemed as if an "inner circle" of senior figures in the party -- such as Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte -- had kept the key positions for themselves.
Ms Burton was widely tipped to take the new Public Expenditure and Reform brief. However, in a major surprise, this went to Wexford TD Brendan Howlin instead.
Ms Burton was appointed Minister for Social Protection. It was expected she would get a higher-profile portfolio since she has performed strongly as her party's finance spokeswoman since 2002.
Ms Burton, Mr Rabbitte and Mr Howlin made up the Labour negotiating team that struck the coalition deal with Fine Gael but, of the three, she was given the least powerful ministry.
"It just seems that there's this inner circle and that's who got appointed. I feel sorry for Joan, especially considering what she's done over the last few years," a Labour TD said
Another TD said it was "hard for women to make the cut sometimes but these decisions are for Eamon to make".
But the Dublin West TD last night insisted she was not disappointed and is looking forward to working in her department.
There was also anger that Dublin North-West TD Roisin Shortall did not make the cut, and did not even get the "super junior" position.
That post, which allows the junior minister attend Cabinet but not vote, went to Longford-Westmeath TD Willie Penrose.
There was some surprise that Mr Penrose was given the nod, and that Dublin South-East TD Ruairi Quinn was made Minister for Education.
Ms Shortall was seen to have a good case for inclusion because of her strong performance as Labour's social protection spokeswoman and since she was one of the most effective members of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee.
She also successfully managed her vote in her three-seat constituency and brought in running mate John Lyons.
Labour party sources last night said Ms Shortall was disappointed, even though it is highly likely she will be made a junior minister later today.
On the Fine Gael side, Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd -- who had been seen as an outside bet to take the Ceann Comhairle's position -- was seen as the big loser after he was left out by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.