Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

New agriculture minister appointed

Shane McEntee died just before Christmas last year

The Government has appointed a new junior agriculture minister to fill the position left vacant by the late Shane McEntee.

It is understood Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes was named the new Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

An announcement is expected later following the weekly Cabinet meeting of Government ministers.

Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle used Twitter to deliver a message of congratulations to the Tipperary TD.

The junior minister position was left vacant for almost six months after the death of Mr McEntee just before Christmas. A by-election was held in his constituency of Meath East in March to fill his Dail seat, which was won by his daughter Helen McEntee.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Hayes was well equipped to carry out the junior minister job. "Tom Hayes has a deep understanding of the agriculture sector and I am confident that this, along with his political and farming experience, will equip him very well for this important and challenging role," Mr Kenny said.

The Tipperary TD will have responsibility for forestry, horticulture, the greyhound industry and food safety. He is a beef farmer from Golden and has served in the Dail for Tipperary South since 2001.

Before that, he was a member of the Seanad for four years when he served as opposition spokesman on agriculture.

"I am delighted and honoured to have this opportunity to serve as Minister of State," Mr Hayes said. "I look forward to working closely with Minister Simon Coveney and other Government colleagues on the continued development of these very important sectors."

The Fine Gael TD also served as chairman of the parliamentary party for eight years and has spent the last two years as chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications.

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