Mayo should have at least one junior minister in the make-up of the next government given the continued success of Michael Ring since first being elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election in 1994.
Speculation is rife in the county that the time has come for Michael Ring to be handed a senior ministerial position given his huge vote getting capabilities and his obvious appeal to Irish public.
Dep Ring’s election in 1994 gave the Fine Gael party the majority to go into Government from 1995 to 1997. He was again re-elected in the 2002 General Election when the party suffered a serious drubbing, and in 2007 with more than 11,000 first preferences. But last week’s election saw Dep Ring’s best result yet with more than 13,000 first preferences securing his election after the first count alongside the party leader. He was also one of the main supporters of Enda Kenny during the leadership heave against him last year, and Dep Ring was key in drumming up country support for his fellow Mayo man.
The pressure is on Enda Kenny now to ensure his running mate is awarded one of the top ministerial positions or, at the very least, a junior role.
There has been much speculation that Dep Ring could do well with the Social Protection or Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs portfolios given that he has experience as shadow spokesperson in both these roles.
Others believe he could be handed the job of Ceann Comhairle, a role that would somewhat censor the outspoken “Ringer”, but should he survive in that role for the length of the government he would be automatically re-elected to the next Dáil.
Dep Ring has experience on a junior level as spokesperson for health and agriculture and at a senior level as spokesperson for Social Welfare, Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs and must feel that he is now due a senior position within the party.
However the Westport deputy will not be drawn on the issue. “The decision is not in my hands,” told the Mayo Advertiser. However if such a position was offered to him by Enda Kenny, Dep Ring said that he would graciously accept.
Party leader Enda Kenny is also holding his cards close to his chest while negotiations continue with the Labour Party.
During the last Fine Gael Labour coalition Dep Ring served on the joint services committee, joint committee on women’s rights, and select committee on enterprise and economic strategy, and was a member of the British-Irish inter-parliamentary body.
On the other side of the county returned Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony has served as deputy spokesperson on Arts, Sport and Tourism with Special Responsibility for Sport during the last government and may also be in the running for a junior position.
Meanwhile Michelle Mulherin will undoubtedly have to earn her stripes on a national level before she rises through the party ranks, however she has been dubbed as one to watch out for in the coming years.