The new Irish government didn’t waste any time hitting the ground running with Taoiseach Micheál Martin appointing his new cabinet on Saturday evening. The appointment of 15 senior ministers had one or two surprises but the new cabinet is perhaps best known for who didn’t make the cut. With the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party coalition holding 84 seats, it was always going to be a tough ask for the party leaders to get the balance right with competence, gender and geography being important factors. Outgoing Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, got the nod for promotion to the Department of Justice while first time TD for Kerry, Norma Foley, stormed her way to top of the class as the new Minister for Education.
Former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar may have hoped for a more flexible schedule but with a July stimulus to be planned, the new Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment won’t be taking holidays anytime soon. Simon Coveney will continue to represent Ireland as Foreign Affairs and Brexit Minister albeit alongside his long time constituency rival and now Taoiseach Micheál Martin. The Green Party, as was expected, well and truly rule the green agenda with party leader Eamon Ryan taking on the all-encompassing Department of Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport.
However, it was the fact that no senior cabinet post was allocated to the West of Ireland that caused the most fireworks. The decision to appoint Dara Calleary, the Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil and head of the party’s negotiating team on government talks, as a junior minister also caused ripples through the party. Martin’s decision not to appoint the competent Jim O’Callaghan as one of his top six backfired when the barrister later turned down a junior ministry on Wednesday. The new government is off to a shaky start but it will have many, many far more testing days ahead.