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Runners and riders: The names already being talked about to replace Robert Troy

There are a couple of names in the ether, the most popular being Mayo TD Dara Calleary.

Photo: Christopher O'Sullivan (top left) Michael Moynihan (middle left) Taoiseach and James Lawless (bottom left) Dara Calleary (right)
Photo: Christopher O'Sullivan (top left) Michael Moynihan (middle left) Taoiseach and James Lawless (bottom left) Dara Calleary (right)
Image: RollingNews.ie

NO SOONER HAD Robert Troy resigned as junior minister, politicians in Leinster House were speculating about who would get the job. 

There was surprise among many Fianna Fáilers over the speed at which the minister resigned late last night.

The embattled minister made the announcement that he would resign as Minister of State for Trade Promotion in a statement issued shortly after 9pm. He will remain as a Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath.

It followed two weeks of growing controversy following the initial publishing of an article on The Ditch website which said that Troy had failed to declare his sale of a Mullingar property to Westmeath County Council.

The focus now moves to who takes up the position, with Micheál Martin reflecting on his replacement over the next coming days.

There are a couple of names in the ether, the most popular being Dara Calleary. 

Calleary resigned from Cabinet in the wake of the Golfgate controversy but it’s believed there may be a path back for the Mayo TD. 

Calleary was a witness in the trial that saw two politicians and two hoteliers be cleared of  organising the Golfgate dinner contrary to Covid-19 regulations.  

After the trial was over, the Taoiseach said Calleary had “paid a high price” for resigning his position as agriculture minister when his attendance at the event was revealed. 

In February, the Taoiseach suggested there may be “a way back” for Calleary. The return of veteran journalist Sean O’Rourke – whose planned return to RTÉ was cancelled in the wake of the Golfgate controversy – suggests RTÉ has taken a similar view.

“In many ways what he did it was a very high price for him to have paid, it was very dignified what he did… of course the door is always open and there’s always a way back for a person of the calibre of Dara, that’s clear,” said the Taoiseach at the time.

Calleary appears to be the hot favourite, with one TD telling this website “Calleary deserves it”.

While his name is repeatedly mentioned, there are some views that Calleary getting the job could “play poorly” for the Taoiseach from a “PR angle” as the public might see it as the appointment of a politician that had already been sacked from Government. 

Calleary is well-liked in the party, with the majority of members believing that despite Golfgate, the Mayo TD is still viewed as a decent sort who would do a good job. 

He is understood to have a passion for business and previously spoke to The Journal in 2015 about how “we love failure in Ireland” and how people should be encouraged to open up new businesses and get back up on the horse if they stumble.

So, perhaps a good fit for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Some tipped TD James Lawless for a position last time around, but he was overlooked. 

The Kildare North was the party spokesperson on innovation from 2016-2020, so perhaps another good fit.

He has been on a fact-finding mission within the party the last number of months, meeting every unit of the party across all constituencies to draft up a new mission statement for the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis at the end of September.

His name is certainly out there, said one TD.  

fianna-fail-leader-micheal-martin-left-with-fianna-fail-candidate-james-lawless-canvassing-for-the-general-election-in-clane-co-kildare Micheál Martin with James Lawless Source: Alamy Stock Photo

The other option for the Taoiseach is to appoint one of the newer TDs to maintain their support. Either way Martin has an issue as, no matter who he appoints, he runs the risk of annoying someone and seeing them flee into the “anti-Micheál Martin camp”. 

With the Taoiseach previously stamping out any suggestions of a heave against him, stating that he’ll lead the party into the next election, his camp constantly have one eye over their shoulder. 

A recent break away parliamentary party meeting, held before the summer, with no ministers in attendance, raised eyebrows before the Dáil broke for the summer. The group is due to meet again in September.

Of the new TDs being mentioned, the party’s environment spokesperson and staunch Martin supporter Christopher O’Sullivan has been mentioned by a few.

However, as he is a TD for Cork South West, his geography might work against him.

Other newer TD names in the mix are Cormac Devlin, TD for Dun Laoghaire, Paul McAuliffe, TD for Dublin North-West, or Cathal Crowe, TD for the Clare constituency. 

FF 718 Brendan Smith, Michael Martin and Michael Moynihan picutred in 2018. Source: Sam Boal

Or perhaps the Taoiseach might extend the olive branch to TD Michael Moynihan. 

Fianna Fáilers say the Cork North West TD could be a “dark horse” and, with Martin trying to shore up support, he might not like to rub salt in Moynihan’s wounds.

Back in July 2020, Moynihan said he told new Taoiseach Martin “a few home truths” on foot of him not being appointed a junior minister.

He told the Taoiseach that he was insulted and “very disappointed” to not receive a promotion, stating that 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.

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”.

At the time, Willie O’Dea, a TD for Limerick City, also expressed his disappointment at being overlooked for a ministerial position, so perhaps he now has his eye on the junior ministerial job up for grabs. 

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