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Junior ministers: Dara Calleary given sport and Gaeltacht role after cabinet snub

The Minister of State appointments were made this evening

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Chief Whip Dara Calleary arrives for the first Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Chief Whip Dara Calleary arrives for the first Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

RollingNews.ie

Chief Whip Dara Calleary arrives for the first Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Fianna Fáil deputy Dara Calleary has been given a ministerial boost by being handed responsibility for Sport and the Gaeltacht.

Mr Calleary said he was left disappointed after he was given the junior Cabinet position of Government Chief Whip by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.

However, he will also oversee the sport and Gaeltacht elements of Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin’s department.

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Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

Ms Martin was appointed as Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

The decision to give the extra responsibilities to Mr Calleary follows backlash over his appointment as Chief Whip.

The previous chief whip Sean Kyne was also minister for the Gaeltacht. Mr Calleary who is a gaeilgeoir, will have the added bonus being involved in allocating the Government’s sport budget.

Earlier today, John Paul Phelan turned down an offer from Mr Varadkar to serve as deputy Chief Whip.

Mr Phelan served as minister of state in the last government and was close personal ally of Mr Varadkar during the leadership campaign.

It comes as Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan turned down a role as a junior minister.

Mr O'Callaghan was offered a role as a minister of state with responsibility for law reform in the Department of Justice by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin - but declined the position.

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Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

Jim O'Callaghan. Pic Tom Burke

He said today he believes his energy and abilities will be better used as a backbench TD rather than as a junior member of the government.

In a statement to Independent.ie, the Dublin Bay South TD said: "I was asked this afternoon by an Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, to accept an appointment as minister of state in the government. Having thought carefully about this offer I have decided not to accept.

"The reason I am not accepting is because I believe my energy and abilities will be better used as a backbench Fianna Fáil TD rather than as a junior member of government.

"At a time when many of our party’s senior members will be preoccupied with their ministerial duties, I want to devote more time to strengthening our great party by making it a more attractive option for young voters.

"I also believe Fianna Fáil needs strong voices outside government who can ensure that our party’s identity can be protected during the term of this coalition government.

"I wish Micheál and his government every success in the years ahead."

Micheál Martin’s appointments sparked fury in Fianna Fáil on Wednesday night with one of his close allies Michael Moynihan heavily criticising the decision to exclude him.

Mr Moynihan, who has served as Fianna Fáil party whip for the last decade, told the Irish Independent: “We got two seats in the constituency of Cork North-West in the last election and I did everything humanly possible for the party over the last nine years.

“Of course I am disappointed. Not alone has he insulted me, he has insulted the entire community of northwest Cork.”

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Michael Moynihan expressed that he was 'disappointed' and 'insulted'

Michael Moynihan expressed that he was 'disappointed' and 'insulted'

Michael Moynihan expressed that he was 'disappointed' and 'insulted'

Meanwhile, former Education Minister Joe McHugh turned down a junior ministry after was told he could not have the European Affairs or Tourism role.

Mr McHugh, who served in Cabinet for three years, was offered his choice of ministries by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

The Donegal TD asked for the European Affairs role so he could be involved in addressing the impact of Brexit on his constituency.

However, he was told this portfolio was going to Fianna Fáil because Fine Gael has been allocated the senior Foreign Affairs role through Simon Coveney.

Mr McHugh also sought to be appointed as the Minister of State for Sport and Tourism which has been a ministry since 2011. But he was told these functions will not be delegated to a junior minister.

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Joe McHugh 
 (PA)

Joe McHugh (PA)

Joe McHugh (PA)

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin is the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

Mr McHugh decided not to take any of the other roles and will be remain a backbench TD. Mr Varadkar appointed him as Chief Whip when he was elected Taoiseach before being promoted to the Education Department following a Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr McHugh was told he will be appointed as chair of the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs

In a surprise development Tourism and Sport Minister Brendan Griffin is to be dropped from the ministerial ranks altogether. The Kerry Fine Gael TD was told of his fate by the Tánaiste on Wednesday.

Mr Griffin tweeted: "It has been an honour to serve as Minister of State for Tourism & Sport. I always did my best for everyone & enjoyed working with so many great people. I wish my successor the very best in the difficult times ahead for both sectors & for our country as a whole. Thank you all."

Junior foreign affairs minister Ciarán Cannon has also been told he will not be retained. On Twitter, the Galway East TD said has been a truly life affirming experience" to work in the Department of Foreign Affairs over the last three years.

"Together we made a difference. I wish my former colleagues and now lifelong friends every success in the valuable work that they do," he wrote.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan's choice of his three junior ministers created new anger among some sections of the Green Party.

Two people who played a leading role in the coalition negotiations, Brian Leddin of Limerick and Marc Ó Cathasaigh of Waterford, had been tipped for junior ministries and were overlooked in favour of appointees who have more elected political experience.

"The problem is that both Leddin and Ó Cathasaigh were led to believe they were 'in' - when they were not. That is not good," one source said.

Speaking this evening An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said,

“I want to take this opportunity to wish the newly appointed Ministers of State well in their various portfolios. They bring a range of talent and ability to their Ministries and will act with determination and passion.

“Ireland faces great challenges as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. A difficult path lies ahead but the government will work collectively to engineer an economic and social recovery.

“This government reflects the shared future that each party has signed up for. We are ambitious in our plans and the appointment of the Ministers of State reflects our priorities for the five years.

“The Ministers of State will play a key role in the delivery of the Programme for Government, and will ensure that no sector is left behind.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to progress our common goal of a fairer, more equal Ireland.”

Full list of appointments made:

Fine Gael Ministers of State

  • Colm Brophy - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora)
  • Josepha Madigan - Department of Education and Skills (Special Education and Inclusion)
  • Peter Burke - Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Local Government and Planning)
  • Frank Feighan - Department of Health (Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy)
  • Martin Heydon - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Research & Development/ Farm Safety/ New Market Development)
  • Damien English - Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Employment Affairs); and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Retail Businesses). Following the formal reconfiguration of Departments, Minister of State English will be assigned to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
  • Patrick O’Donovan - Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (OPW)

Fianna Fáil Ministers of State

  • Anne Rabbitte - Department of Health and the Department of Justice and Equality (Disability). Following the formal reconfiguration of Departments, Minister of State Rabbitte will be assigned to the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration.

  • Niall Collins - Department of Education and Skills (Skills and Further Education). Following the formal reconfiguration of Departments, Minister of State Collins will be assigned to the Department of Higher Education, Innovation and Science.

  • Robert Troy - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Trade Promotion). Following the formal reconfiguration of Departments, Minister of State Troy will be assigned to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

  • Mary Butler - Department of Health (Mental Health and Older People)

  • Jack Chambers - Department of Finance (Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance)

  • Charlie McConalogue - Department of Justice and Equality (Law Reform)

  • Thomas Byrne - Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (EU Affairs)

Green Party Ministers of State

  • Malcolm Noonan - Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Heritage); and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Electoral Reform). Following the formal reconfiguration of Departments, Minister of State Noonan will be assigned to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
  • Ossian Smyth - Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Public Procurement and eGovernment)
  • Joe O'Brien - Department of Rural and Community Development (Community Development and Charities)

The Government previously appointed Senator Pippa Hackett to be Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Hildegarde Naughton, TD to be Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

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