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Dara Calleary says Cromwellian anger reflects what he's heard after ministerial snub

The Western People newspaper says the Cabinet decisions amount to: “To Hell or to Connacht “.

Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary TD in Leinster House earlier this year.
Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary TD in Leinster House earlier this year.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Jun 29th 2020, 2:05 PM

THE NEW GOVERNMENT’S chief whip Dara Calleary has said he was ‘disappointed’ by Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s decision not to award him a Cabinet ministry.

Calleary, who is deputy leader of Fianna Fáil, told Midwest radio he had “an incredibly difficult conversation” with Martin on Saturday afternoon when the Taoiseach was informing colleagues about who would be made a minister.

“We had a very difficult conversation and I told him I was disappointed. I had hoped to lead a department. That’s always been my ambition and I can tell you that it’s still my ambition and it will happen, it will absolutely happen,” he told presenter Tommy Marren.

The Mayo deputy has been a TD since 2007 and survived Fianna Fáil’s disastrous election in 2011 to be an ever-present in the Dáil since he was first elected.

As chief whip he will have a seat at the cabinet table and has responsibility for ensuring that government TDs vote in sufficient numbers.

The decision to exclude Calleary from a Cabinet ministry has surprised and angered many party members, with some saying there was a legitimate expectation he would be given a senior post.

As one put it, it is felt that Calleary has done much of the “heavy lifting” in rebuilding the party in the past decade. Some members have focused on the elevation of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to a cabinet position just three years after joining Fianna Fáil

Others close to Calleary have told TheJournal.ie however that Donnelly’s appointment wasn’t unexpected and that the Ballin man’s exclusion was as the result of another appointment.

The decision not to appoint Calleary to a Cabinet post has come under specific focus due to the fact that no TDs from west of the River Shannon have been appointed to lead a department.

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

NO FEE OIR NEW CABINET MEMBERS MX-9 Calleary (left) sitting in the Dublin Convention Centre as it hosted the Dáil's election of Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Source: Maxwells

During this morning’s Midwest interview, Marren read Calleary an extract from an editorial in the Western People newspaper which voiced anger at the makeup of the Cabinet:

The new Cabinet is the ultimate and final betrayal of people of the west, of the people of rural Ireland, the people who get up early and go to bed late just to keep the lights on in towns and villages, buffeted by one economic storm after another since the turn of the millennium. This weekend in the National Convention Centre in Dublin, the triumvirate of Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan unveiled a Cabinet that Oliver Cromwell would have been proud to call his own. To Hell or to Connacht indeed.

In response, Calleary said they were “strong words” and that they “reflect a lot of the anger I have got on messages and on the phone”.

He added:

“What I will say is that I’m going to be around the table and I am going to be strong, loud and constructive. And working with the other ministers around that table, they’re not going to forget that the west exists.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, chairman of the Fianna Fáil cumann in Ballina Matt Farrell said that Calleary “should have been the first person offered a ministerial role”. 

I can’t read Micheál Martin’s mind or what his agenda is in making those appointments. He made two appointments in Fianna Fáil as two ministers who have no experience as ministers. They will come in there for first time, and they were all new faces to Fianna Fáil, and I cannot say for sure why he appointed these people. 

Farrell added:

“Speaking on behalf as chairman of the Fianna Fáil organisation locally, the feeling is that Micheál Martin need not show his nose in Mayo as Taoiseach, because he will not be welcome for the way his treated Dara Calleary. Now I know that that wouldn’t be Dara’s wish, but I can tell you. That’s my wish.”

Defending the decision on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney earlier, Fianna Fáil’s new Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that Calleary is someone “of huge integrity of great ability” who will “have an equal say” at Cabinet.

Congratulations

On the same programme, former taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil Bertie Ahern congratulated Martin on becoming taoiseach. 

Senior politicians across the globe have wished the new Taoiseach well upon the formation of a new government, five months on from the February general election.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Martin both on the new government and his appointment as Taoiseach.

“Ireland is our closest neighbour, good friend and ally on issues such as climate change, the global fight against Covid-19 and our shared values on human rights and democracy,” said Johnson.

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Tweet by @Boris Johnson #StayAlert Source: Boris Johnson #StayAlert/Twitter

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also welcomed the election of Martin as Taoiseach, congratulating Ireland on the formation of a government.

“I look forward to working with the new Irish government on issues that are important to both Canadians and the Irish, including supporting international efforts to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 and to safely restart our economies,” said Trudeau.

Canada and Ireland enjoy an enduring friendship built on common values, shared priorities, and close family and people-to-people ties.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said she hoped to meet with Martin this week and that she looks forward to working with him.

We look forward to making progress with him on matters of mutual concern & building a positive relationship with the new administration in our neighbouring jurisdiction.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Martin on his election as Taoiseach and says she looks forward to working with him soon to build on the work done by now Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Tweet by @Nicola Sturgeon Source: Nicola Sturgeon/Twitter

Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier extended his congratulations to Martin and the new government.

He also thanked Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Helen McEntee for their past work on Brexit.

The first sitting of the new Seanad will take place this afternoon after the remaining 11 senators were nominated. Beginning at 2:30, the Seanad is expected to debate motions surrounding the Criminal Justice Act and the Offences Against the State Act.

The cabinet is also meeting in Dublin Castle today, with the new ministers having met their departmental staff since being appointed by the Taoiseach on Saturday. 

-additional reporting by Tadgh McNally

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Rónán Duffy

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