Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kenny claims geography, not gender decided new ministers

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has further infuriated his female TDs after admitting that geography placed a key factor in the make-up of his junior ministerial team.

Mr Kenny yesterday attempted to defuse tensions within the Fine Gael ranks over the junior ministerial selection last week.

He defended his decision and insisted that ministerial titles "are not a conduit to success".

But one TD last night said it showed that Kenny "cares more about location than ability".

Such is the level of discontent among the female politicians in Fine Gael, some members of the parliamentary admitted privately that the lack of a single female appointment had made them reconsider their political futures.

Others said they believed Mr Kenny's failure to hand jobs to female TDs would put women off joining the party.

The Taoiseach said that he felt his ministers needed to be spread across the country, indicating that his decision was influenced by geography. He also insisted that the number of female cabinet ministers is higher than ever before.

"It's not about an individual reshuffle. The job given to government, the two parties in government, both Fine Gael and Labour, is to fix our public finances and to get our country working. In that sense, you need a team across the country and across the general divide," Mr Kenny said.

But his admission that geography played a key role in the selection process appears to have caused further upset.

One TD said: "Of course geography is important, but is it more important than ability and sending out a message that we are a pro female party?


"The level of hurt these decisions has caused is not going to go away."

Another deputy said she is "very disappointed" Mr Kenny has not phoned to discuss the matter. "He surely knows we are upset and I'd like to think he would give us an explanation," she said.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, the Taoiseach insisted that he would have liked to have appointed more ministers "but that's not the way things are".

"Minister titles are not a conduit to success politically or personally," he added.

All of the appointments from the Fine Gael side were men, while just one female TD was promoted by Labour leader Joan Burton.

A number of female Fine Gael TDs, including Regina Doherty, Marcella Corcorcan Kennedy and Catherine Byrne, have expressed their disappointment at Mr Kenny's decision.

One of the TDs who previously expressed disappointment, Marcella Corcorcan Kennedy, was yesterday appointed chairperson of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee despite not being a member. The other Fine Gael members on the committee are Aine Collins, Sean Kyne and Anthony Lawlor.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny again refused to be drawn on whether he would consider taking a top EU post at the end of year.

He has again been linked to the position of President of European Council, currently held by Herman Van Rompuy.

Asked whether he was approached about the position at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels this week, Mr Kenny said the matter did not arise.

"There were no commitments or proposals to anybody in respect to the position of the President of the council," he said. The Taoiseach also said that the decision over Ireland's European Commissioner portfolio will be made in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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