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Catherine Martin

‘Whatever you’re having yourself’: TD questions new ‘jumble drawer’ ministry

Some critics have concerns about whether each area will get enough attention from Catherine Martin.

SOME TDS HAVE criticised the Taoiseach’s decision to roll the Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht portfolios into one department.

Today, Micheál Martin was elected Taoiseach of the 33rd Dáil, and his new Cabinet was appointed. 

One standout department reshuffle was that given to deputy leader of the Green Party Catherine Martin.

Making the Cabinet appointments announcement in the Convention Centre this afternoon, the Taoiseach said:

“A free, independent and professional media is vital for our democracy. We have set out our commitment to helping not just our public service media, but our professional media as a whole to be able to have a sustainable future.  

“Deputy Catherine Martin will lead our work on this as a matter of urgency. She will also lead the critical work of helping to restart and strengthen key elements of what makes us unique as a nation – our arts, our teanga náisiúnta, our sports, and our tourism.”

However, the portfolio has been described by some as the jumble drawer of the Cabinet, with people quick to point out that acronym for Martin’s Department is going to be lengthy.

A number of politicians today raised some serious concerns about why areas such as tourism, sport and the arts, which will all require a great deal of support as the country exits the Covid-19 restrictions, was handed to one minister. 

One Fianna Fáil TD said Catherine Martin is now the “Minister for Normal People and Senior Hurling”, while another said it did not offer much hope to the Gaeltacht areas that they had been tacked on at the end.

They questioned whether each brief would get the attention it deserves.

One concerned TD was Tipperary’s Mattie McGrath who said today’s Cabinet means that once again, rural Ireland will be left behind.

He said Martin was now the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht “and sure whatever you’re having yourself when the pubs open on Monday”.

He noted that she could have power over greyhound racing, hare coursing and horse-racing, which McGrath said would not sit easy with his constituents.

“They are an industry of rural Ireland. I say hands off – the people of rural Ireland won’t tolerate this, we’ve lost enough,” he said.

Others such as the Arts Council and Screen Ireland welcomed Martin’s appointment. Dr. Annie Doona, Chair of Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland:

“We look forward to working with the Minister to ensure the industry can recover from the current crisis and return to live-action production as safely as possible, in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.”

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