Children's Minister in from the cold
CHARLIE Flanagan's appointment to the Government first team was three years later than it might have been.
On three occasions Enda Kenny and Mr Flanagan were on opposite sides of Fine Gael leadership contests. In 1994 Mr Flanagan was one of the "gang of four" who unsuccessfully tried to oust leader John Bruton, while Mr Kenny was a key defender; in 2001 Mr Flanagan backed Michael Noonan when Mr Kenny himself unsuccessfully contested the leadership; and in June 2010 Mr Flanagan joined a botched heave against Mr Kenny's leadership.
Yesterday, Mr Kenny decided that almost four years in exile were enough and Mr Flanagan was appointed Children's Minister.
The 57-year-old Laois-Offaly TD brings with him a lifetime's experience of politics. His father, a renowned Catholic conservative knighted by the Pope 'Oliver J', was eventually forced by illness to retire as a TD in 1987, paving the way for his son, who was a solicitor, to successfully contest the seat.
At Leinster House Mr Flanagan soon established himself as a good political performer.
By the time Fine Gael finally got into government as part of the Rainbow Coalition in December 1994, Mr Flanagan was heavily out of favour as a defeated anti-Bruton rebel.
In May 2002 Mr Flanagan was a casualty of the Fine Gael electoral meltdown. He won back his Dail seat in May 2007 and appeared destined for government office. The 2010 failed heave against Mr Kenny's leadership torpedoed his hopes. But he got over his disappointment after Fine Gael entered government and served loyally and effectively as party chairman.
At Leinster House the father of two has a reputation of being sometimes irascible. But in fact he is good company with a wide range of cultural and sporting interests and his appointment was well received by all parties last night.