LIMERICK now has two full ministers around the Cabinet table after Jan O’Sullivan’s appointment as Minister for Education in Enda Kenny’s reshuffle was confirmed this Friday lunchtime.
The long-serving Labour TD has been sitting at Cabinet meetings, but without a vote, as a ‘super-junior’ minister with the housing portfolio.
But her promotion to Minister for Education, succeeding Ruairi Quinn, is now the crowning achievement of a political career that started out in the early 1980s with Jim Kemmy’s Democratic Socialist Party.
Education is a brief she previously held as an opposition spokesperson and she is also a qualified Montessori teacher.
“I am absolutely delighted. I have had a lifelong interest in education. I was obviously spokesperson under Pat Rabbitte’s leadership of the Labour Party for several years. I believe very strongly that it is one of the most important areas of life insofar as if young people and second chance people get an appropriate opportunity in education, that is hugely life-changing for them. It is an area I have always had a strong interest in,” she told the Limerick Leader this Friday.
Minister Quinn had begun a number of reforms in his period in office, including around school patronage and the Junior Cert, and the new minister said consultation around these issues would continue.
The Limerick TD said she also hoped to bring about change as a minister.
“I certainly want to continue to reform but I also know that I will need to engage with all of the various sectors in education and all of the various interests, including parents. But it is too early at this stage to say exactly what the agenda will be. I intend to meet with the secretary general on Monday and I will take it from there,” said Minister O’Sullivan.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s status as somebody indispensable to Enda Kenny was confirmed as he is to remain in his position. And the Tipperary TD and new Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly has been promoted to Minister for the Environment.
Junior ministries are not expected to be announced until next week, with Deputy Kieran O’Donnell said to be in the mix for a promotion here.