Tuesday 20 February 2018

Junior roles for new female recruits

Aine Kerr

THE only two female TDs appointed to Fine Gael's frontbench will not be marking senior ministers but will be shadowing junior ministers.

The two new recruits, Deirdre Clune and Catherine Byrne, will cover the areas of innovation and senior citizens -- two portfolios held by junior ministers Conor Lenihan and Maire Hoctor.

They replace Olivia Mitchell and Olwyn Enright, who held the more senior portfolios of arts, sport and tourism and social welfare.

The former frontbench spokeswomen marked senior ministers Martin Cullen and Mary Hanafin and enjoyed high-profile positions in Enda Kenny's line-up.

Of the 21 TDs appointed to the frontbench yesterday, only two were women.

Prior to yesterday, there were just 19 frontbench positions, but Mr Kenny created two new portfolios -- which went to Ms Clune and Ms Byrne.

And the only female TD in the party to have been overlooked for promotion since the 2007 General Election is Dublin South's Lucinda Creighton.

She said it was a "pity" that there are no women shadowing a senior cabinet minister.

"That's a pity but it's a decision for Enda Kenny," she said.

But she was delighted both Ms Byrne and Ms Clune had been promoted.

And she insisted she never expected to get a call from Mr Kenny to serve on the frontbench.

"I'm not disappointed because I never had any expectation that could cause disappointment," she said.

"I do my best. I work extremely hard. I'm 100pc committed and loyal to the Fine Gael party."

And she pledged to "always speak my mind".

In the past, Ms Creighton has raised questions about Mr Kenny's leadership and blocked some of his policy moves, such as gender quotas.

Such criticisms were perceived to have ruled her out for any promotion under his leadership.

Announcing his line-up yesterday, Mr Kenny said he had attempted to strike the right balance of age, gender, experience, geography and skills.

Irish Independent

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