Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan with new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Newcastle West recently Picture: Michael Cowhey
LIMERICK will no longer have a voice around the Cabinet table following the announcement of ministerial appointments by the newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The most-touted name in the running for a Cabinet position was Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan.
But despite speculation that ran right up to late this evening, that hope never materialised.
Now, Minister O’Donovan must wait until next week to see if he retains his junior minister status. That is widely expected, although a change of department may be on the cards.
Michael Noonan’s stepping aside as Minister for Finance was seen as leaving a door open for a new face at the cabinet table. And Taoiseach Varadkar had indicated he would take a regional spread into account.
The supporters of Minister of State O’Donovan were banking on the fact that their man and the Taoiseach had soldiered together through Young Fine Gael and became councillors on the same day. They also hoped that the new Taoiseach might want to have fresh, youthful faces on his team.
Besides, the O’Donovan supporters were confident their man had done enough to step up to a senior ministerial post.
As a junior minister, Deputy O’Donovan is widely seen to have done a good job, dealing up front with the difficult situation over tickets which arose at the Rio Olympics. But on the issue of gender quotas for state-assisted sports bodies, his senior minister, Shane Ross quickly shut him down.
If that situation exposed a lack of clarity over who was responsible for what, it became even more so earlier this year when Minister O’Donovan was forced to demand that Minister Ross define his responsibilities.
The President today appointed Leo Varadkar TD as Taoiseach. pic.twitter.com/RRiZjDOm7Z— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) June 14, 2017
Meanwhile, speculation is also continuing as to what will now happen in Limerick City, given Michael Noonan’s decision to step aside as Minister for Finance and to retire from politics at the next general election.
Minister Noonan’s absence from the cabinet table will no doubt be regarded as weakening Limerick’s hand in the competition for resources and funds. It could also make regaining two seats in the constituency that bit more difficult in the event of a general election.
But promotion for either or both of the party’s senators, Kieran O’Donnell and Maria Byrne, to junior ministerial posts is unlikely to be a runner, although it has happened on occasion in the past.
The two were highly visible congratulating the new Taoiseach this Wednesday and throughout his campaign for party leader.