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'Poison' and 'mutiny' in the air as supporters rally round their man

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Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary was asked to serve as Chief Whip

Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary was asked to serve as Chief Whip

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary was asked to serve as Chief Whip

You'd be hard pressed to find someone in Fianna Fail with something negative to say about party deputy leader Dara Calleary.

The Mayo TD goes out of his way to get on with everyone. It is one of the reasons Micheal Martin appointed him as his deputy in March 2018.

"If there was a funeral for a councillor's father who lived up a hill in the back of nowhere and you asked him to come, he would," a colleague said.

Mr Calleary was appointed chief negotiator for the arduous government formation talks with Fine Gael and the Green Party.

Once the deal was done he, like other front-bench TDs, spent hour after hour on tele-conference calls, trying to sell a deal that would see Mr Martin elected as Taoiseach.

Loyalty

Naturally he expected to be rewarded for his hard work and loyalty to the leader.

However, on Saturday afternoon the new Taoiseach asked him to serve as Government Chief Whip, a position that comes with a salary €40,000 less than a senior minister.

In comparison, Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney was appointed Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister, while Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin was given the mammoth Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht.

Mr Calleary's supporters were furious at Mr Martin not giving him a full Cabinet position.

"There was a poisonous atmosphere in the Convention Centre after the Cabinet was voted in. No one could understand why Micheal would do that to Dara," one TD said.

Another TD said it was an "appalling public humiliation" of a TD who "worked his b****x off" to get Mr Martin into the Taoiseach's Office.

"People in the West are furious over what he did to Dara and it makes a mockery of their supposed commitment to regional development," the TD added.

Another TD said Mr Calleary should have told Mr Martin to "f**k off and caused a mutiny".

Others in Fianna Fail were angry over the decision to appoint Stephen Donnelly as Health Minister.

"People who dedicated their lives to Fianna Fail have been overlooked for a "f**king Social Democrat," a TD said in reference to the party Mr Donnelly left two years ago before joining Fianna Fail. "It's not like he performed well in the General Election," another TD said.

First-time TD Norma Foley's appointment as Education Minister also raised eyebrows and was seen as a major snub to second-term TDs Anne Rabbitte, Mary Butler and Niamh Smyth, who hoped to be in the running for top jobs.

The Calleary snub even confused Fine Gael, which was banking on him being appointed to Cabinet as the only senior minister in Connacht.

Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton was appointed as super junior but there is no senior representative for the entire West of Ireland .

Mr Martin's team said he tried to appoint ministers who were suited to their roles.

"He tried to appoint the best to the portfolios we have," a source said.

"The Chief Whip is a super junior and Dara has great experience for a complex job involving the three parties."

A newly appointed minister said he understood why Calleary was "rightly annoyed" but said he would "eventually make his peace" with the appointment and "do an excellent job".

However, the division sparked by the decision could have far-reaching consequences for Mr Martin as he steps into the cauldron of Government Buildings.