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Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland Doyle was the Fine Gael spokesperson on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food prior to the party entering government in 2011.

Doyle confirms interest but still no decision on junior agriculture minister

Andrew Doyle, the chairman of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, has confirmed his interest in filling the vacancy at the Department of Agriculture which arose following the death of Shane McEntee last year.

THE TAOISEACH HAS yet to make a decision on appointing a new Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture to replace the late Shane McEntee but one rumoured candidate has confirmed his interest in the role.

The chairman of the Oireachtas Committeee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, has confirmed he is interested in the junior ministry but told it will be down to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make a decision.

“I am interested alright but it’s the Taoiseach’s call,” the Fine Gael TD for Wicklow said this week, adding: “I would of course take the job but that’s up to him [the Taoiseach].”

It is understood that Doyle is now the firm favourite for the role of Minister of State for Food, Horticulture and Food Safety which has been vacant since McEntee’s death last December.

Under legislation concerning the appointment of junior ministers, the Taoiseach makes a nomination to the Cabinet which then approves this choice.

This differs slightly from the appointment of ministers who are appointed by the President on the nomination of the Taoiseach. There is no specific time frame for an appointment to be made and the Taoiseach was in the US last week.

Any decision would likely come after the Meath East by-election on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Taoiseach confirmed that it is a matter for Cabinet and that no decision has yet been taken in relation to the vacancy.

As chairman of the Agriculture Committee and a farmer himself Doyle is considered a more suitable and experienced choice for the junior ministry but fellow Fine Gael TD Damien English has also been mentioned as a possibility.

The Meath West TD is currently managing Helen McEntee’s campaign in the Meath East by-election to fill the Dáil seat vacated by Shane McEntee. If Fine Gael was to triumph in that by-election then the ministry may be seen as reward for English.

English did not return a request for comment at the time of publication.

Doyle joked that he had agreed with English that the pair would not “duel at dawn” over the role and said that because of the circumstances under which the vacancy has arisen he would not seek to bring up the matter with the Taoiseach.

“Whatever happens happens, at this stage,” he said before adding: “But yeah if the job was offered I would definitely take it. It’s my stock and trade.”

Read: Tributes paid to late Minister of State Shane McEntee

Meath East by-election: Here are the candidates and here’s what they’re saying

More: 11 candidates confirmed to run in Meath East by-election

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