Friday 28 October 2016

Kenny picks seven FG allies for the Seanad as Reilly makes comeback

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Picture: Mark Condren)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Picture: Mark Condren)

Fine Gael deputy leader and former Dublin-North TD James Reilly has been appointed to the Seanad by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Kenny has attempted to rehabilitate Mr Reilly's and five other party colleagues' careers by making them senators after their General Election defeats.

Chief among those was the former Health and Children's Minister, who narrowly missed out in the Dublin-Fingal constituency.

The Deputy Party Leader told the Herald that he was "glad to remain in politics" last night on hearing of his success.

"I'm delighted to be in the Upper House, to still be a part of Government and involved in the on-going commitment to improve life for all people in our country," he said.


"One thing I'd like to emphasise is that the restoration of the economy was not an end in itself, but only a means to improve life for all.

"I believe that this Government will continue to do that, particularly [in] commitments to address the housing crisis and other issues."

Mr Reilly added he didn't know whether he would stay on as party leader as a member of the senate.

"I still am the deputy party leader and will continue to carry out that role until the Taoiseach says otherwise."

Mr Kenny also threw a life-line to his party colleagues John O'Mahony and Michelle Mulherin from his native Mayo after they endured their own election disasters.

Mr O'Mahony agreed to run in Galway-West as the party felt that it would struggle to retain its four seats in the Taoiseach's own back yard.

It was felt locally that Mr Kenny's comments calling some constituents "All-Ireland champion whingers" cost Ms Mulherin her Dail seat when she ran in the county.

Ms Mulherin told the Herald last night that she was "honoured to represent in the Upper House" .

Other fallen Fine Gael TDs to be appointed after suffering at the polls include Paudie Coffey (former deputy for Waterford), Ray Butler (Meath West), and Frank Feighan (Roscommon-South Leitrim).

Mr Kenny has not appointed any deputies from either Tipperary or Kerry, where his party failed to secure a single Dail seat.

Former representative for Kerry and minister Jimmy Deenihan lost out along with former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Tom Hayes and James Bannon were other unsuccessful Fine Gael TDs to miss out on a senate seat.

A Fianna Fail source confirmed that Mr Kenny made a "personal offer" to its leader Micheal Martin to chose three senators of the Taoiseach's 11 nominees.

This was agreed outside the confidence and supply agreement - the deal which allows Fine Gael to form a minority Government with Independents.

Mr Martin chose non-politicians for the three positions offered to him.

He recommended senators including Pieta House Founder Joan Freeman, the chief executive of Alzheimer's Society of Ireland Colette Kelleher, and businessman Padraig O Ceidigh.


A Fianna Fail source said: "Having campaigned for retention and reform of the Seanad, we wanted to make sure that there were key area specialists appointed."

Ms Freeman, speaking on RTE's Drivetime radio programme yesterday, said Mr Martin phoned her on Thursday to consider the position and asked her to "be the voice of mental health".

Ms Freeman added she was "shocked" that she was chosen as one of the Taoiseach's 11 nominees.

Journalist and lecturer Marie-Louise O'Donnell was the only Independent senator that Mr Kenny had chosen to re-appoint to the 25th Seanad.

Mr Kenny also picked advocate for Irish immigrants in the US Billy Lawless, where he has lived for the past 20 years.

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