No Galway representation at the Cabinet table “will have negative consequences” for the city and county and “smacks of very poor regional planning by An Taoiseach”.
The absence of Galwegians in Cabinet and the severe under-representation of women at senior and junior ministerial levels has drawn angry comments from Independent Galway West TD and Reform Alliance senator Fidelma Healy-Eames.
Given that Galway is the second largest county in the State, with a population of 250,000 including the third largest city in the Republic, and is major employment hub in the west of Ireland, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny’s decision to overlook Galway came as a surprise.
Junior Minister and Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon was removed from his post, while there was no promotion for Sean Kyne, Brian Walsh, Paul Connaughton, or Derek Nolan. However the latter quartet were only elected in 2011; Dep Walsh was only re-admitted to FG recently; deputies Kyne and Connaughton are seen as members of the ‘five-a-side’ group the Taoiseach would see as critical of him; and Dep Nolan was too closely identified with the old regime of former Labour leader Eamon Gilmore. This would serve to explain the absence of Galwegians in the ministerial ranks.
That said, Dep Grealish believes the re-shuffle “shows little regard by An Taoiseach for his nearest neighbours” and is “a very bad reflection on Galway”, which will have repercussions.
“For the majority of the last 35 years, the county has been represented with ministerial positions either at senior or junior level,” he said. “We are now in a position that we have no county representative or voice in government and this will undoubtedly have negative consequences.”
Sen Healy-Eames was similarly concerned for what the new Cabinet means for Galway.
“It smacks of very poor regional planning by An Taoiseach,” she said. “Many will lose out and not just in Galway, but across the west. Compare this with Cork which received a deluge of appointments. It makes no sense. A way will have to be found to redress this balance.”
The Maree based senator added that female TDs “got a really raw deal” in the junior reshuffle ranks within Fine Gael. “Not one female Fine Gael TD was promoted,” she said. “More jobs for the boys.”