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File photo of Micheál Martin and Michael Moynihan (right).
File photo of Micheál Martin and Michael Moynihan (right).
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

'Bitterly disappointed' and 'grossly insulted': FF and FG politicians speak out about ministerial snubs

Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan said he will be “a thorn in the side of the government”.
Jul 2nd 2020, 12:44 PM 48,182 112

FIANNA FÁIL TD Michael Moynihan said he told new Taoiseach Micheál Martin “a few home truths” on foot of him not being appointed a junior minister.

The Cork North West TD said he was insulted and “very disappointed” to not receive a promotion this week.

Speaking to C103′s Cork Today show, Moynihan said Martin called him to discuss the issue yesterday evening and the pair had a “very fraught” discussion.

“It was a full and frank discussion … he got it both barrels. We had a very fraught discussion and I explained a few home truths to him very clearly,” Moynihan said.

He noted that “nothing is guaranteed in politics, you have to roll with the punches”, but said he and his community were “insulted” by the snub.

Moynihan said he and some other Fianna Fáil TDs who were overlooked for ministerial positions in the new coalition government “have been there a long time, we have put huge service in”.

He said he knows there were “challenges” to address in terms of appointing people to junior and senior ministerial roles from three different parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

However, he said certain areas and people were unfairly overlooked.

“This has driven me on further, and it has ensured that I am going to work harder than ever. And I will be a thorn in the side of the government to deliver on the issues,” he stated.

“Politics is a rough business, you don’t always get what you want,” he added.

In an earlier interview with the Irish Examiner, Moynihan expressed similar sentiments and accused Martin of “disrespecting both him and his community”.

Willie O’Dea, a TD for Limerick City, has also expressed his disappointment at being overlooked for a ministerial position.

O’Dea said he is “bitterly disappointed” that Limerick “has been completely overlooked” for either a senior or junior ministerial role.

“I have been inundated with messages from people who feel let down and grossly insulted,” he tweeted today.

The full list of new junior ministers can be read here.

‘Limited choice’

Speaking on Monday, Martin said he had a “limited choice” when appointing people to Cabinet, and he looked at suitability to the role when making his decision.

His deputy leader Dara Calleary had earlier expressed disappointment at not being appointed a minister.

Ahead of the Cabinet appointments on Saturday, it had been assumed that Calleary would be appointed to a senior role but he was instead appointed as Chief Whip, in charge of ensuring government TDs are in the Dáil chamber to take part in crucial votes, among other tasks. He will still be present at Cabinet meetings.

Speaking to MidWest Radio on Monday, Calleary said: “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.”

In response, Martin said: “We’ve a limited choice each party leader has a limited number to appoint, calls have to be made in terms of the portfolios in particular.”

He added: “It’s very difficult, and I think there are a number of people who will be disappointed that they didn’t make the Cabinet table.

“It’s very difficult for the individuals involved, I understand that.”

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have six senior positions at Cabinet, including the positions of Taoiseach and Tánaiste, while the Green Party has three.

‘Life has to go on’ 

Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said politics is “tough business” and “life has to go on”.

He said it is understandable that some people are disappointed, but everyone has to “put their shoulder to the wheel … we all have a role to play”.

McGrath said he didn’t envy the decisions party leaders had to make, but they made the decisions to the best of their ability.

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It is not just the Fianna Fáil party that is experiencing some disquiet. Former Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring has criticised Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar for his choices.

The Tánaiste previously told reporters that politicians who focus on their constituency too much are neglecting the rest of the country.

Ring responded to this comment, telling Midwest Radio today:

“I will look after Mayo and I make no apologies for looking after Mayo. The people of Mayo gave me 15,000 votes and elected me on the first count, the only Fine Gael TD in the country that was elected on the first count.

“Leo Varadkar got 8,000 votes and it took him five counts to get elected. Between himself and Paschal Donohoe, they got 12,000 votes and I beat the two of them put together. So I make no apology for representing the people.”

However, Varadkar today insisted the best people were chosen to become junior ministers, and he added there are no hard feelings between himself and TDs who were not promoted.

He said: “In terms of the appointments, as leader of Fine Gael I had to go through 28 different TDs to come up with a final seven – you would usually have double the number.

“We had to take into account who the best people for the job would be – issues like geography and gender and so on. However, the overriding consideration was to pick the best people for the job.”

Former Education Minister Joe McHugh refused to take a junior position, while ex-Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was not reappointed by Varadkar.

McHugh was offered his choice of a range junior ministries but turned them down when it became clear he could not have a post in European affairs or tourism.

Varadkar said: “Joe and I are good friends, we go back a long way. He was keen to have a bigger role but the role he wanted as minister for European affairs was not available – that had to go to someone in Fianna Fáil.

“I would have liked him to have served as a minister of state again but he made his decision and I totally respect that.”

On Murphy, the party leader said: “Eoghan had asked not to be considered for a ministry. I met Eoghan for a few drinks last night and we’re still very good friends and he is full of ideas and thoughts for the future.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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