Two junior ministries sought for Mayo

MAYO councillors have proposed writing to Taoiseach Micheál Martin calling for junior ministries for Deputy Michael Ring and Senator Lisa Chambers.

The junior ministry appointments are due to be announced later this week.

The call came at today's (Monday) annual general meeting of Mayo County Council where Deputy Martin was sharply criticised for not appointing Deputy Dara Calleary a senior minister.

'Appalled' by the decision, Achill-based Fianna Fáil member Paul McNamara highlighted how the nearest minister was now in Offaly – what a distance to have to travel to meet with them or to have a voice or vote at Cabinet. Meanwhile there were nine ministers in the Dublin commuter belt.

The west, he said, had been dealt a very severe blow.

Noting how when we fill out agricultural forms we are in a disadvantaged area, he stated: “We have been really left disadvantaged now.”

Echoing his disappointment, Councillor Damien Ryan said there was an opportunity for the leadership to redeem itself on Wednesday with a junior appointment for Lisa Chambers.

To have balanced regional development you needed to have representation at the table, he said.

Fine Gael Councillor Jarlath Munnelly said he and his council colleagues had voted against the programme for government.

To address the balance, he suggested Michael Ring should be junior minister for the department he had established and ensure there is a rural voice at the Cabinet table.

With Senator Chambers and Deputy Ring, it would strengthen their hand and he proposed they write to the Taoiseach on this.

FF Ballina-based Councillor Annie May Reape said Saturday had been a 'very long day'. Many calls and messages had been received by Deputy Calleary and were appreciated.

His omission, she felt, would be regretted, but he would be a strong voice for the west.

The government had neglected the western seaboard, Independent Councillor Mark Duffy told the meeting, by breaking up the Department of Community and Rural Affairs and having no senior minister there.

To have no representation was a huge blow and a lost opportunity.

Councillor Christy Hyland said the programme for government was put together over 100 days and it was decided to put rural affairs in with social protection. “What message does that give about rural Ireland?” he asked.

Ring's position as the FG poll-topper was pointed out by Councillor Donna Sheridan who said he had delivered for rural Ireland and it was extremely disappointing his department has been amalgamated with another.

It was important, she added, that they stand united as councillors and say we don't accept the lack of representation at the Cabinet table for Mayo and Connaught.

FG Councillor Gerry Coyle branded what happened Dara Calleary 'an absolute disgrace'.

He was disappointed at the lack of ministries for Mayo but said the county has strong voices and they will continue to fight for it.

This sentiment was echoed by Councillor Sean Carey who said despite the disappointment, Dara Calleary has a voice at the top table and he is a man who will deliver.

“He is a man of steel and he will fight for Mayo,” he said.

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