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Go west? Government set to appoint 17 junior ministers

The government has faced significant anger over the lack of geographical diversity among senior ministers.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, flanked by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, flanked by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE CABINET WILL today approve the appointment of 17 junior ministers, with the government expected to use the opportunity to try to ease some of the criticism of the lack of geographical spread among senior ministers. 

Micheál Martin’s government has faced significant anger from some western constituencies, made worse by the decision to appoint Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary as Chief Whip – widely seen as a snub given the Mayo deputy’s seniority. 

No TDs from west of the River Shannon have been appointed to lead a department.

The expectation is that the geography could play a role in deciding which TDs from the three governing parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – will join the ranks of junior ministers. 

Fine Gael’s Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton was made a junior minister who also attends Cabinet, a so-called ‘super junior’.

Earlier this week, she tweeted that “as the senior Government Minister in the West, I am fully committed to representing its interests”.

Labour leader Alan Kelly criticised the number of junior ministers to be appointed – a total of 20 will have been appointed by the end of today. 

“There is no evidence that increasing the number of Ministers of State actually leads to better governance in Ireland. Now with Fianna Fáil back in office there seems to be a lot more jobs being created in government to keep everyone happy, and Fine Gael and the Greens had no problem signing up,” Kelly said. 

“Rather than take stock of the financial dire straights we find ourselves in, the incoming government seem to be more focused on ensuring that their respective parliamentary parties are soothed by the idea of ministerial office.”

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