Independent Roscommon/Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice has led condemnation of the fact that there is no senior Cabinet minister from the West of Ireland in the new government.
When new Taoiseach Micheál Martin – who heads up a Coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – unveiled his Cabinet on Saturday evening, there was widespread shock at what is being seen as a snubbing of the West of Ireland.
It had been widely expected that there would be at least one senior Cabinet minister from the West. However, the claims of Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary and party colleague Anne Rabbitte were controversially overlooked (Deputy Calleary was appointed as Government Chief Whip).
Independent TD Marian Harkin expressed her shock on Twitter, while Deputy Fitzmaurice held up a map of Ireland which starkly showed a huge section of the country which is now without a senior minister.
Strongly criticising the omission, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “A map tells a thousand words and it was never as true as Saturday evening when there was a large part of the country left without a minister. There’s 1.5 million people to represent (in that area). This is just unacceptable”.
Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane said that the absence of any senior cabinet position based in the West or North West was “incredible” – and did not bode well for the region.
Deputy Kerrane: “The Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Green Party Programme for Government is largely silent when it comes to the western region. To add insult to injury, the region is now without a voice at the cabinet table.
“This beggars belief. The West is underperforming and needs support. The Government parties have continuously ignored the region. They have no plan, no vision, or no interest in delivering for the West”.
Fianna Fail Senator Eugene Murphy did not criticise the decision, but said it was disappointing.
Senator Murphy: “I appreciate the disquiet and disappointment around the fact that there is no senior ministerial position in the West of Ireland, but the role of Dara Calleary as Government Chief Whip must not be underestimated. He will have a seat a Cabinet and have the eyes and ears of the Taoiseach, Michéal Martin”.