Monday 22 January 2018

Explainer: Who’s who on Leo Vardakar’s junior ministerial team?

Leo Varadkar with his junior ministerial team Photo: Steve Humphreys
Leo Varadkar with his junior ministerial team Photo: Steve Humphreys

Niall O'Connor and Catherine Devine

New Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced the Government’s new appointments as Minister of State.

While there have been many winners and losers, below is everything you need to know about the 15 newly appointed Junior Ministers of State.

Five new ministers have been appointed which include:

Michael D’Arcy (47): Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance

Michael D'arcy. Photo: Tom Burke

The Wexford TD has been rewarded with arguably the most influential role on the junior benches, having worked for many months behind the scenes on Mr Varadkar’s leadership bid. He is one of the Taoiseach’s so-called ‘choir boys’ - a label given to him and his colleagues by Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell.

Mr D’Arcy is known to have a cold relationship with his constituency rival Paul Kehoe.

His father Michael served as a junior minister in the eighties.

John Paul Phelan (38): Minister of State for Local Government

John Paul Phelan. Photo: Tom Burke

Another so-called ‘choir boy’, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD is one of Mr Varadkar’s closest confidantes. Despite being in the Oireachtas as a TD and senator for 15 years, Mr Phelan has never held a ministerial post. He is a close friend of former minister Lucinda Creighton and her husband, ex-senator Paul Bradford. While a low key contributor to Dáil debates, Mr Phelan’s profile grew as a member of the Banking Inquiry. 

Brendan Griffin (34): Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

Brendan Griffin

The Kerry TD was a leading member of the one time ‘five-a-side club’ - which was once seen as being a thorn in the side of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Griffin , a former publican who topped the poll in 2011, learned his political trade as a parliamentary assistant to the ex-minister Jimmy Deenihan.

He is popular within social circles and known as a talented impersonator of fellow politicians.

Ciaran Cannon (51): Minister of State for Diaspora and International Development

Ciaran Cannon

A keen cyclist, the Galway East TD has returned to the ministerial benches having previously been dropped by Enda Kenny.

Mr Cannon joined Fine Gael in 2009 having previously served with the Progressive Democrats (PDs). The father-of-one served as the fourth and final leader of the party, which has since been dissolved.

Jim Daly (45): Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People

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Jim Daly TD Picture: Tom Burke

The former primary school teacher has proven to be a strong Dáil performer in recent months, championing issues such as children and education. He is also regularly trotted out to defend his party in media appearances.

Mr Daly is from Clonakility in Cork and is one of 11 siblings.

He takes his counsel from his parliamentary assistant Darren Hourihane, who played a behind-the-scenes role in Leo Varadkar’s leadership campaign.

Other Ministers of State

Helen McEntee (28): Minister for European Affairs

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Helen McEntee. Photo: Tom Burke

Ms McEntee was previously appointed Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People in May 2016.

She was elected to Dáil Éireann in March 2013.

Ms McEntee was appointed by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications. She is also a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Before becoming a public representative Helen worked in the Department of Agriculture and previously for a subsidiary of Citibank.

Patrick O'Donovan (40): Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment

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Patrick O’Donovan Photo: Tom Burke

Patrick Donovan TD was previously served as Minister of State for Tourism and Sport.

He was first elected to the Dáil in February 2011.

Mr O'Donovan is also a qualified primary school teacher.

Catherine Byrne (61): Minister of State for Drugs and Health Promotion

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Catherine Byrne, Minister for Communities and National Drugs Strategy, outside Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

Ms Byrne was previously appointed Minister of State for Communities and National Drugs Strategy in May 2016.

She was first elected to the 30th Dáil on May 24 2007, representing the constituency of Dublin South Central.

She was re-elected to the 31st Dail on 27th February 2011.

She was privileged to be Lord Mayor of Dublin from 2005-2006, and lived in the Mansion House with her family.

Pat Breen (60): Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection

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Pat Breen TD

Mr Breen was previously appointed Minister of State for Employment and Small Business in May 2016.

He was  first elected to Dail in 2002 and was successfully re-elected in May 2007 with an increased mandate.

In the General Election 2011, Pat Breen topped the poll in the Clare Constituency with 9,855 first preference votes, the highest vote ever achieved by a Fine Gael Candidate in County Clare.

Prior to Pat’s election to Dail Eireann, he was a member of Clare County Council and the Vocational Educational Committee from June 1999 to 2002.

Sean Kyne (42): Minister of State for Natural resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development

Sean Kyne

Mr Kyne previously served as was Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources in May 2016. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 2011 and represents the constituency of Galway West which encompasses the City, Oranmore/Claregalway and Connemara.

From 2004 to 2011, Seán was a member of Galway County Council for the Connemara Electoral Area.

He attended St Mary’s College in Galway City before attaining a degree and Master’s degree in Agricultural Science at NUI Galway and UCD respectively.

For 11 years, Sean worked as an agri-environmental consultant with particular responsibility for the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme.

John Halligan (62): Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development.

John Halligan, Independent TD for Waterford. Photo: Tom Burke

Mr Halligan is an independent TD who previously served as  Minister of State for Training and Skills in May 2016.

He was first elected to the Waterford City Council in 1999 for the Workers' Party of Ireland.

He joined the Independent Alliance upon its inception in 2015.

On 27 February 2016, he was re-elected as TD for Waterford at the general election.

After a spell of prolonged talks on government formation, Halligan voted Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on May 6 2016, allowing Kenny to become the first Fine Gael leader re-elected to this office.

Andrew Doyle (56):Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture

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Andrew Doyle TD was appointed Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture in June 2017 having previously been appointed in May 2016.

He is a member of Dáil Éireann and represents the constituency of Wicklow-East Carlow.

He is currently the Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

He was previously a member of Wicklow County Council from 1999-2007 and was Cathaoirleach of Wicklow from 2005 to 2006.

Damien English (39): Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development

Damien English Picture: Collins

Mr English previously served as Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal in May 2016. 

He is a member of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party representing the constituency of Meath West.

Damien first stood for election in 1999 and was elected to Meath County Council for the Navan electoral area. In the 2002 general election, Damien was elected to the 29th Dáil as TD for the Meath constituency.  At 24 years of age he was the youngest TD in the 29th Dáil.

Kevin Boxer Moran (54): Minister of State the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief

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Independent TD Kevin Boxer Moran at Coosan Point, Athlone. Photo: Tony Gavin

Mr Moran is an independent TD.

He is a former member of Fianna Fáil and was elected to the Dáil on his third attempt at the 2016 general election, amassing 11,122 preferences.

As an Independent candidate, Boxer contested the 2014 Longford-Westmeath by-election, coming fourth with 5,629 first preference votes.

He joined Deputy Shane Ross’s Independent Alliance for the February 2016 general election and took the 2nd seat with over 11,100 preferences. Upon entering Government with the Independent Alliance, Boxer agreed to share the new Junior Ministry for the OPW and Flood Relief with his Galway East Independent Alliance TD, Deputy Sean Canney.

David Stanton (60): Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration

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Minister David Stanton Photo: Tom Burke

Mr Stanton was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1997 and has been re-elected at every election since. He served as the Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

He was appointed Fine Gael Spokesperson on Defence in July 2010 and Assistant Whip (Dáil Reform) with Special Responsibility for Disability Issues from October 2007-July 2010.

He was also the Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Social & Family Affairs & Equality from October 2004-September 2007.

Mr Stanton was formerly deputy spokesperson in Education and Science with special responsibility for the Information Society in June 2002. Prior to this he acted as deputy spokesperson on finance, public enterprise, agriculture and food and was the party’s spokesperson on labour affairs, consumer rights and trade (1997-2000).

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