Kenny ally will need to keep wits in shark-infested waters
FRANCES Fitzgerald's staunch loyalty to her leader has at times been tested, but never found wanting. She was firmly in Enda Kenny's corner during the leadership heave in the summer of 2010 – and has been rewarded for backing the right horse.
But it will take more than just loyalty to see the Dublin TD through the shark-filled waters that await her.
Some observers believe she will rise to meet the extensive challenges linked to alleged garda corruption, but others fear she may be out of her depth as Justice Minister.
Ms Fitzgerald is seen as a tireless worker and a safe pair of hands. She does not court controversy, but it arrived at her door following the referendum in November 2012. A Supreme Court challenge was launched based on a claim that public money was used to advocate a 'yes' vote. The court later ruled in favour of the Government.
As the first politician to take up the position of Children's Minister since it became a full cabinet position, Ms Fitzgerald has delivered a range of reforms. The establishment of the Child and Family Agency was hailed as a momentous step forward for the welfare of our children.
She spearheaded the Children First legislation and the children's rights referendum, despite a couple of hiccups along the way. And she has won plaudits for her understanding of the need to deal with the decades of clerical abuse.
In what was seen as a gamble, Ms Fitzgerald persuaded Olympic boxing medallist Kenny Egan to contest the local elections, insisting he had the qualities that will benefit a community, despite his addiction problems. And it's a gamble that looks set to pay off as Mr Egan is strongly tipped to take a seat in the Clondalkin ward.
A former social worker, Ms Fitzgerald was first elected to the Dail in 1992 in Dublin South East. She lost her seat 10 years later but made a return to Leinster House in 2007 after she was elected to the Seanad.
Ms Fitzgerald was returned to the Dail in the last general election in Dublin Mid West. A mother of three boys, she lives in Castleknock with her husband Michael.