Wednesday 23 January 2019

Who do you want, do you really, really want -- it's Girl Power, Fianna Fail style...

FIANNA Fail is hoping that girl power can turn the tide in Dublin.

Micheal Martin promoted three women in his frontbench reshuffle -- all from the capital.

Two have no Dail experience while Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin has been appointed as deputy leader.

Eyebrows were raised around Leinster House at the appointment of little-known Averil Power to the position of spokeswoman on political reform.

And Cllr Mary FitzPatrick has been plucked from Dublin Central and thrust into the middle of the party's election campaign.

Her selection is likely to be seen as a slap in the face to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as the city councillor is challenging his old ally Cyprian Brady.

Late last night, Mr Martin put the final touches to his election team with confirmation that former Defence Minister Tony Killeen will be National Director of Elections and PJ Mara is back as chairperson of the Election Committee.

Today Ms Power, a candidate in Dublin North East, revealed that she expressed concerns about being promoted but was convinced to accept the role by Mr Martin.

She said that the new frontbench was evidence of his "commitment to completely rejuvenating the party".

Up to now the 32-year-old has worked as an advisor to Mary Hanafin, but said: "I am excited to have been given responsibility for one of the most important policy areas."


Ms Power added that she was "fed up of petty party politics and of politicians who seem more intent on bickering and scoring political points than on finding real solutions to the problems facing the country".

Cllr FitzPatrick was tipped to get a Seanad nomination after the last General Election but was not chosen by Bertie Ahern, who she claimed "shafted" her during the campaign.

Speaking about her new portfolio as spokeswoman on housing and urban development, she said she was "honoured to have been chosen today to form part of Micheal's new team for the election campaign". "There are major housing projects in the inner city that are essential for the community and I will be working throughout this campaign and beyond to ensure they are progressed.

"The election campaign will be challenging but it is also the most important in our country's history," she said.

Another Dublin rookie to make Mr Martin's frontbench was Dublin North TD Darragh O'Brien, who will be in charge of sports policy, while Cllr Jim O'Callaghan is legal advisor to the grouping.

Former ministers Willie O'Dea and John McGuinness flanked the rookies yesterday as they walked down the plinth.

The duo have been welcomed back into the party hierarchy despite it being just a year since Mr O'Dea was forced to resign in disgrace over false statements made in court.

But backbenchers such as Cavan-Monaghan's Margaret Conlon and Meath East's Thomas Byrne missed out on a job.


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