The Taoiseach Enda Kenny hand in hand with new Tánaiste Joan Burton have announced details of their Cabinet reshuffle with Tipperary TD Alan Kelly now appointed as the new Minister for Environment and Local Government.
Yesterday’s announcement also saw the promotion of Paschal Donohoe as Minister for Transport, Jan O’Sullivan as Minister for Education and Alex White as Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources. Heather Humphreys replaces Jimmy Deenihan at Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Simon Coveney takes on the Defence portfolio while still remaining as Minister for Agriculture.
Charlie Flanagan will takes over at the Department of Foreign Affairs and James Reilly has been demoted as expected, moving to Children and Youth Affairs, while Leo Varadkar will replace the latter as Minister for Health with Kathleen Lynch still remaining as a junior Minister in Health.
These appointments were formalised by President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday afternoon.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated during all of this reshuffling that the Government would now increase the overall household benefit package by €100, to compensate for the introduction of water charges. We here in Tipperary wait anxiously to see how this can be achieved and endeavour to understand why, if statement is correct, is it necessary to compensate for water charges when same could be simply reduced by the stated figure of €100.
The Taoiseach also stated that the system of child and income supports would be soon revised to reduce disincentives to persons returning to work, with access to subsidised childcare to be extended. He did not state where these new disincentivising employment opportunities could be located, but did promise an unrelenting focus once again on future job creation.
With newly appointed Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Alan Kelly also gaining a seat on the Government’s front bench, he immediately becomes the first elected TD to do so in this county in over a decade. He will, by accepting his new ministerial duties at the top table, be now expected to look after his county’s flagging interests. His Party here in Tipperary has a major rebuilding struggle ahead, as indicated following a recent disastrous showing in Tipperary local and European elections.
While this new Labour Cabinet Tipperary appointee certainly does not lack personal confidence or indeed personal ambition, Tipperary will now be looking for him to deliver both funding and employment, factors that he and indeed his Fine Gael government colleagues, e.g. Coonan etc, have miserably failed to achieve over the past number of years. His new portfolio as Minister for the Environment and Local Government will certainly continue to attract national criticism given his Labour party’s stance and broken promises, prior to the last General Election, e.g. Introduction of Water Charges.
The hard working yet successful Hidden Tipperary Tourism Group are still waiting very tolerantly, regarding promised confirmation on the Derrynaflan Hoard’s brief vacation to Thurles from Dublin, but time is running out and in view of Mr Kelly’s latest acquired portfolio, their obscured future plans for 2015 now remain further shaded in murkiness.
North Tipperary LEADER Partnership are also waiting next in line, hatchet in hand, as Mr Kelly will be well aware, following the well attended rally held outside of Dáil Eireann on Wednesday July 9th last, addressed by Marian Harkin MEP, Liadh Ní Riada MEP and others.
Regarding Enda Kenny’s promised disincentivising job opportunities, Minister Kelly will be well aware of the latest unemployment figures from the CSO showing that dole queues in Co Tipperary are continuing to grow longer. The IDA’s report for the first six months of the year show that close to 8,000 jobs are being created across Ireland, but none of these promised investments have been allocated to County Tipperary.
Tipperary will wait and monitor, but nevertheless for the time being at least, we heartily congratulate Minister Alan Kelly on his recent success and wish him well in his new roles, both in rebuilding Labour and in successfully gaining his new seat at the Cabinet table.