Leo Varadkar faces backlash from rural TDs for promoting Dubliner Neale Richmond to junior minister

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing backlash from his TDs for neglecting rural Ireland when he appointed Dublin-based TD Neale Richmond as junior minister at the Department for Enterprise.

Former Minister Michael Ring lashed out at the ‘Dublin Brigade’ and last night accused some cabinet ministers of failing to hold their seats in an election.

Another former minister, Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea, accused the government of being too “city-centric”, while Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said he agreed with the need for more ministers outside of Dublin.

A Fine Gael TD said privately the appointment of Mr Richmond was an “incredible decision” and added that they were “completely shocked” that the Taoiseach was giving the ministry to a Dublin TD with little experience.

It comes as opposition TDs are reluctant to ask Mr English to resign from his Dáil seat for fear their own affairs are not in order.

Labor will today ask Mr English to make a Dáil statement explaining how he gave the wrong information on the planning application in 2008.

A Labor source said the former minister, Mr English, had not answered questions about the controversy and that he should make a full Dáil statement explaining what happened.

Meanwhile, Mr Ring pointed to the 2020 general election and said he was the only FG TD in the country to get more votes than Sinn Féin.

He said Fine Gael had “gone to Dublin” and said the only “saving grace” for the party was Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphreys.

“We should be a broad-based party. There are enough ministers in Dublin now,” he said.

He said he “never took a foot wrong” during his time as minister and said the party was “wrong” in dumping him.

“I brought in two seats and some of the cabinet ministers that we have now could hardly be elected,” he said. “It’s about time a rural TD got up and started taking over the establishment, the Dublin Brigade.”

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín said 40 per cent of senior ministers in the government are now from Dublin, with all Dublin TDs being Rathdown ministers.

“Dublin has 12 ministers, senior and junior, but there are 10 boroughs with no ministers,” he said.

Mr Tóibín said 60 per cent of Connacht wards had “no minister at all” and there were no cabinet ministers in Connacht.

“This has enormous consequences for the spatial development of our country. The people who make the decisions tend to make the decisions in favor of the place they know.”

Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd said he “hears what he’s saying” and said he was “disappointed” not to have gotten the part despite applying for it.

“Personally, I would have liked to have been appointed – Louth has major problems in terms of employment and health problems – but it is up to the Taoiseach to make those appointments,” he said.

However, he said Mr Richmond was a person he “esteems highly” who will make an “excellent minister”.

Former Justice Secretary Charlie Flanagan paid tribute to Mr Richmond and said he had been at Leinster House for a decade.

“These things are very difficult for leaders and it’s been a difficult week,” said Mr. Flanagan.

“I would have tipped Neale, he is an ideal choice and will make a great Minister.”

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said Mr Tóibín made “fair points” in his comments.

“The ministers are unevenly distributed,” he said.

“There are many complaints about rural Ireland being left behind and too urban. The government is very focused on urban areas.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/leo-varadkar-faces-backlash-from-rural-tds-over-promotion-of-dubliner-neale-richmond-to-junior-minister-42285673.html Leo Varadkar faces backlash from rural TDs for promoting Dubliner Neale Richmond to junior minister

Fry Electronics Team

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