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Gaybo's ex producer replaces Shortall

THE man handed Roisin Shortall's poisoned chalice in the Department of Health is Gay Byrne's former producer.

Alex White's rise to the rank of junior health minister is the latest move in a career that has seen him move from being radio producer to a Senior Counsel.

As a specialist in labour law and employment tribunals, he is no stranger to dealing with the effects of high-level disputes in the workplace.


Ironically, he has now been promoted as a result of such a dispute, this time between Roisin Shortall and her senior minister James Reilly.

White (53) started out as a fiery radical when he joined the Leauge for a Workers' Republic, a Trotskyist group.

At Trinity College, Dublin, he became president of the students' union.

At RTE, he worked as a current affairs producer and became an active member of the SIPTU union. He rose to become editor of Gay Byrne's radio show for four years.

He went on to become a barrister specialising in employment and labour law and was promoted to Senior Counsel two years ago.

He finally won a seat in the Dail at his third attempt in the election last year, representing Dublin South for Labour.

Previously, he had been Labour's leader in the Seanad.

Currently the chairman of the Oireachtas Finance committee, he was in Brussels at a finance meeting when contacted by his party leader with the offer of promotion.

His appointment will be formally ratified next week.

Deputy White stated later he was "delighted".

"I look forward to progressing the commitments made in the Programme for Government, and I would like to pay tribute to Roisin Shortall for setting so much of this in train," he said.