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No hard feelings with unpromoted TDs – Leo Varadkar

The Fine Gael leader insisted the best people were chosen to become junior ministers in the new Government.

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Leo Varadkar said he had chosen the best people for junior ministerial roles (PA)

Leo Varadkar said he had chosen the best people for junior ministerial roles (PA)

Leo Varadkar said he had chosen the best people for junior ministerial roles (PA)

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has insisted the best people were chosen to become junior ministers, and he added there are no hard feelings between himself and TDs who were not promoted.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced 17 new junior ministers on Wednesday night – seven each from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and three from the Green Party.

Mr Martin had been expected to address the geographical imbalance after the Government was criticised for not appointing any senior ministers from a constituency in the west of Ireland.

While recently demoted ministers are usually given a junior minister role, there were more deputies seeking to be appointed than there were seats available so disappointment for some was inevitable.

Mr Varadkar said the new Government found itself in a difficult position as there were not as many roles to go around as usual due to the make-up of the three-party coalition.

He said: “In terms of the appointments, as leader of Fine Gael I had to go through 28 different TDs to come up with a final seven – you would usually have double the number.

“We had to take into account who the best people for the job would be – issues like geography and gender and so on. However, the overriding consideration was to pick the best people for the job.”

Former education minister Joe McHugh refused to take a junior position, while ex-housing minister Eoghan Murphy was not reappointed by Mr Varadkar.

Mr McHugh was offered his choice of a range junior ministries but turned them down when it became clear he could not have a post in European affairs or tourism.

Mr Varadkar said: “Joe and I are good friends, we go back a long way. He was keen to have a bigger role but the role he wanted as minister for European affairs was not available – that had to go to someone in Fianna Fail.

“I would have liked him to have served as a minister of state again but he made his decision and I totally respect that.”

On Mr Murphy, the party leader said: “Eoghan had asked not to be considered for a ministry. I met Eoghan for a few drinks last night and we’re still very good friends and he is full of ideas and thoughts for the future.”

The 17 junior ministers, combined with the 15 Cabinet ministers and three “super junior” ministers, make the Government one of the largest in history.

PA