Popular TD in historic first
Published 24/03/2010 | 05:00
WEXFORD TD Sean Connick, who was yesterday the only Fianna Fail backbencher promoted to the junior ministerial ranks, is the main beneficiary of Martin Cullen's resignation from the Cabinet.
The geography of his Wexford base is seen as the strongest argument for his promotion, since Mr Cullen, a former Waterford TD, stepped down and left no minister in the south east of the country. Mr Connick, who takes over the fisheries, forestry and marine portfolio, now fills that gap.
He is the first wheelchair-bound TD to be appointed to the ministerial ranks and is respected by his colleagues as a capable politician and media performer.
He was also the leading political advocate for a car scrappage scheme, which was introduced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in his December Budget.
Mr Connick was first elected to the Dail in 2007, when he polled 9,826 first preference votes, with only his party colleague John Browne achieving more. Before being sent to Leinster House, he was a member of Wexford County Council, which he was elected to in 2004.
The 49-year-old New Ross native has been in a wheelchair since he was involved in a traffic accident when he was 14.
He is popular among backbench TDs and has consistently batted for the Government.
He is self-employed and runs businesses in warehousing and distribution but his family background is in the motor trade and he previously worked in his father's petrol station.
He said his promotion proved that people with disabilities could compete with everyone else in society.
"I think it sends out a hugely positive message," he said.