James Reilly among the five defeated TDs chosen by Kenny for Seanad
Published 28/05/2016 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny attempted to rehabilitate the political careers of five of his Fine Gael party colleagues who suffered defeat in the election, by making them senators yesterday.
Among them was former Minister for Health James Reilly.
The deputy leader of Fine Gael told the Irish Independent last night on hearing of his success that he was "glad to remain in politics".
He said: "I'm delighted to be in the Upper House, to still be a part of Government and involved in the ongoing commitment to improve life for all people in our country."
Mr Reilly added that he didn't know whether he would stay on as deputy leader as a member of the Seanad.
"I still am the deputy leader and will continue to carry out that role until the Taoiseach says otherwise," he added.
Mr Kenny also threw a lifeline to his party colleagues John O'Mahony and Michelle Mulherin from his native Mayo after they were rejected by the electorate.
Mr O'Mahony agreed to run in Galway West as the party felt that it would struggle to retain its four seats in the Taoiseach's own backyard.
And it was felt locally that Mr Kenny's comments, calling some constituents "All-Ireland Champion whingers", cost Ms Mulherin her Dáil seat in Mayo.
Other defeated Fine Gael TDs to be appointed after losing out at the polls include Paudie Coffey (former deputy for Waterford), Ray Butler (Meath West) and Frank Feighan (Roscommon-South Leitrim).
Mr Kenny has not appointed any former TDs from either Tipperary or Kerry, where his party failed to secure a single Dáil seat.
Former representative for Kerry and minister Jimmy Deenihan lost out, along with former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, whose appointment had not been expected in any case.
A Fianna Fáil source confirmed that Mr Kenny made a "personal offer" to its leader Micheál Martin to choose three senators of the Taoiseach's 11 nominees. This was agreed outside the confidence and supply agreement.
Mr Martin chose non-politicians, including Pieta House Founder Joan Freeman, the chief executive of Alzheimers Ireland Colette Kelleher and the businessman Pádraig Ó Céidigh.
A Fianna Fáil source said: "Having campaigned for retention and reform of the Seanad, we wanted to make sure that there were key area specialists appointed."
Journalist and lecturer Marie-Louise O'Donnell is the only Independent senator that Mr Kenny has chosen to reappoint to the 25th Seanad.
Mr Kenny also picked Billy Lawless, advocate for Irish immigrants in the US, where he has lived for the past 20 years.