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Meet the new Fianna Fáil front bench

It’s no longer all male – and there are some new faces.

FIANNA FÁIL HAS announced its front bench for 2016 – and though there are many familiar faces, there are some fresh ones too.

Here’s the full list:

  • Leader and Spokesperson on Northern Ireland: Micheál Martin TD
  • Fianna Fáil Whip: Michael Moynihan TD
  • Finance: Michael McGrath TD
  • Public Expenditure and Reform: Dara Calleary TD
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade: Darragh O’Brien TD
  • Regional Development, Rural Affairs and the Gaeltacht: Éamon Ó Cuív TD
  • Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: Niall Collins TD
  • Education and Skills: Thomas Byrne TD
  • Social Protection: Willie O’Dea TD
  • Housing, Planning and Local Government: Barry Cowen TD
  • Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Charlie McConalogue TD
  • Transport, Tourism and Sport: Robert Troy TD
  • Communications, Environment and Natural Resources: Timmy Dooley TD
  • Health: Billy Kelleher TD
  • Children and Youth Affairs: Anne Rabbitte TD
  • Justice and Equality: Jim O’Callaghan TD
  • Defence: Lisa Chambers TD
  • Arts and Heritage: Niamh Smyth TD
  • Disability: Margaret Murphy O’Mahoney TD
  • Mental Health: James Browne TD
  • Dublin: John Lahart TD
  • Fianna Fáil Leader in the Seanad: Catherine Ardagh, Senator

“I think we played a central role in creating an opportunity for a new approach to politics, as reflected this week in the Dáil in relation to the bill on variable mortgage interest rates. So we want to play a very constructive role in the new Dáil and the new Seanad,” said party leader Micheál Martin this afternoon.

He described the front bench team as “diverse”, saying it blends “experience with newly-elected TDs” . He added that some positions are in certain key areas that currently demand particular attention – like mental health and defence.

He said that he has adopted the position that anyone who serves as chair on a committee will not be on the front bench. The chairpersons will be nominated in the next week or two.

The party has more than double the TDs that it had back in 2011, which means greater competition within the parliamentary party, said Martin, who added that spokespersons will have to prove themselves.

“There will be opportunities for everyone in the parliamentary party to carve out a niche for themselves,” he said.

Notable changes to the front bench include Jim O’Callaghan – who was involved in the talks on government formation – moving into Justice, a role formerly held by Niall Collins. Collins is now the party’s spokesperson for jobs.

Instead of an all-male representation, there are now four women across the Dáil and Seanad in the new front bench.

The party has also split the spokespersons on rural affairs and Dublin, something that may appeal to the electorate outside of the capital.

Missing names include Colm Keaveney, who lost his seat in the recent election, and Sean Ó Fearghail, who is now the Ceann Comhairle.

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