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off to brussels

McGrath confirmed as Ireland's nominee for EU Commissioner as he eyes financial portfolio

The Taoiseach announced the news after Cabinet, with TD Jack Chambers named as McGrath’s replacement as Finance Minister.

CABINET HAS SIGNED off on Finance Minister Michael McGrath becoming Ireland’s nominee for EU commissioner.

The nomination of McGrath was discussed at a meeting of the three Government coalition leaders on yesterday evening, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin then bringing the nomination to Cabinet for approval this morning.

Taoiseach Simon Harris confirmed McGrath’s nomination at a press conference this afternoon. 

“I’m conscious that under our coalition agreement, this was a name brought forward by the Fianna Fáil party, but I want to be very clear that this is a nominee for Ireland and everybody in the Irish government will proudly get behind Micheal McGrath as our EU Commissioner,” the Taoiseach said. 

He added: “Michael is a very good colleague, a dedicated public servant, a skilled minister and an extremely diligent and hard worker.

“These qualities and indeed the experience he has developed at a European level as our finance minister, and many other qualities that he possessed as both a politician and a person will be key to his success.”

The Taoiseach will travel to Brussels later this week for the first European Council meeting since the European Parliament elections at the beginning of June. 

While there, EU leaders will nominate the next European Commission President – with it largely expected that Ursula von der Leyen will secure the position for a second term. 

Following this, a vote will be taken in the European Parliament on the President and once approved the 27 EU Commissioners will take up their roles.

Congratulating McGrath on his nomination, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he, alongside Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, have “ensured the shrewd stewardship of our economy” over the last four years. 

“One of his great legacies will be the future Ireland Fund and the Climate Infrastructure Fund, which are about future proofing this country and creating certain guarantees in terms of pensions and so forth into the future for generations to come,” Martin said. 

IMG_8529 Michael McGrath, Simon Harris, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan outside Government Buildings today Jane Matthews Jane Matthews

McGrath thanked the party leaders for his nomination and said it has been a privilege to serve as a public representative since he first ran for election 25 years ago this month at the age of 22. 

“I’ve worked very closely with Minister Pascal Donahoe, and I want to thank him for being a collegial and supportive colleague, as we worked through many challenges and worked well together to protect our economy and indeed, to manage the nation’s finances,” he said.

Eyes on the portfolio

McGrath said an economic or financial portfolio would “seem to be an obvious area” where his skills could be used at European level.

Asked about what portfolio he would hope to get, McGrath said: “It is something we will discuss collectively over the days ahead.

“Obviously, the background that I have, my own qualifications, my political experience, all lie in the broad economic and financial area and that would seem to be an obvious area where my skills can be deployed.

“But it is something we will discuss over the days ahead. And as you know, when it comes to the allocation of different portfolios by the President of the Commission, there are many factors that come into play.”

Fianna Fáil TD and Minister of State in the Department of Transport Jack Chambers has been named as McGrath’s successor as Minister for Finance

There had been widespread reports in recent weeks that McGrath was set to be named as Ireland’s new commissioner, a high-powered position which demands a salary of over €250,000.

Upon the formation of this Government, it was decided that Fianna Fáil would appoint the next commissioner to replace Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness. 

Commissioners are regarded as the highest-ranking diplomats in the EU and are the people who are put in charge of drafting and amending various types of new European policy.

Contains reporting from PA.

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Christina Finn and Jane Matthews