Former leaders crown comebacks with top posts
Published 10/03/2011 | 05:00
THREE former party leaders last night crowned their political comebacks by taking senior ministerial positions.
Fine Gael's Michael Noonan and Labour's Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte are now among the Cabinet's most senior and expert heavy hitters.
The most prestigious cabinet position of Finance Minister has gone to former Fine Gael leader Mr Noonan, who oversaw the party's worst ever election result in 2002.
But having enjoyed a political rebirth since the failed heave against party leader Enda Kenny last summer to become the party's finance spokesman, his elevation within the party was cemented last night with his appointment to the most senior of cabinet positions.
Mr Noonan described yesterday as a "very proud day" for Fine Gael, which has won a record number of Dail seats.
"To have 75 colleagues around you certainly gives you a very good feeling," he said.
Former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte, who stood down in the aftermath of the 2007 General Election, returns to the big league with his appointment to the Department of Communications.
Having upped his media profile in recent months and become one of the party's key Programme for Government negotiators, Mr Rabbitte was last night rewarded for his robust public performances by his leadership successor Eamon Gilmore.
Mr Quinn, who was the predecessor to Mr Rabbitte as Labour Party leader, now takes on his sixth ministry, Education, having already served as Finance Minister, Enterprise Minister, Public Service Minister, Labour Minister and Environment Minister.
Others such as Simon Coveney, who opposed Mr Kenny in the infamous failed heave, also survived the fall-out to win promotion to the cabinet ranks.
Equally, Fine Gael loyalists who staunchly defended Mr Kenny throughout the leadership debacle such as Phil Hogan, Jimmy Deenihan, James Reilly, Frances Fitzgerald and Alan Shatter, were all rewarded.