Fianna Fail rebel is brought back in from the cold O Cuiv gets key agriculture post
FIANNA Fail rebel Eamon O Cuiv was last night brought in from the cold and reinstated to the party's front bench.
Leader Micheal Martin announced a reshuffle of his spokespeople, and Mr O Cuiv was given the plum agriculture post.
TDs last night claimed the main purpose of the move was to allow the Galway West TD return with minimum fuss.
It comes four months after Mr Martin effectively sacked Mr O Cuiv because he defied the party line on the fiscal treaty referendum. Mr O Cuiv wanted a No vote, while Mr Martin and the rest of the party chose Yes.
But Mr Martin is not filling the deputy leadership position that has been vacant since Mr O Cuiv's wobble in the spring.
TDs felt it was only a matter of time before Mr Martin reinstated his former deputy, once the referendum was over.
Mr O Cuiv could not be reached for comment last night.
"That was always the plan, to bring him back," one TD said last night. "That was nearly the whole purpose of it, and just to freshen things up a bit. I think it was known for a while he was coming back and agriculture will be the kind of thing he's good at."
Giving Mr O Cuiv the agriculture portfolio could be seen as an olive branch from Mr Martin, since TDs view it as a decent position and suits Mr O Cuiv's strong links with rural Ireland.
Others moving portfolio are Willie O'Dea, who goes from enterprise to social protection; Mayo TD Dara Calleary, who will be moved from justice to enterprise; and Limerick TD Niall Collins, the environment spokesman, who will take over the justice frontbench position.
Barry Cowen also moves from social protection to environment while Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue is promoted from the children's brief to education.
Mr Martin said he decided on a reshuffle to "maximise our effectiveness and ensure we are able to build on the solid work done to date".
"We have made progress over the last year, bringing forward well argued and important legislation across the board and publishing more than 30 bills.
"The entire Fianna Fail Party is focused on providing robust and constructive opposition to a Government that moves further from its election pledges and becomes more out of touch with the communities which elected it with each passing week."