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Frances Fitzgerald Appointed Minister for Justice


Frances Fitzgerald nominated as new Minister for Justice
Harry McGee, Marie O’Halloran, Michael O’Regan
Last Updated: Thursday, May 8, 2014, 14:26

Frances Fitzgerald is the new Minister for Justice.

She moves from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, where she is succeeded by Charlie Flanagan in his first ministerial portfolio.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominated the two Ministers in a short speech to a well-attended Dáil at 10.45am. The Dáil approved the ministerial nominations by 80 votes to 35

The Taoiseach will take on the Defence portfolio while it is being re-organised.

Ms Fitzgerald represents Dublin Mid-West, having previously been a TD for Dublin South-East and also a Senator.

She is a former chairwoman of the National Women’s Council and vice-president of the European Women’s Lobby.

Married with three sons, she is a former social worker and worked closely with Mr Shatter on family and equality legislation in her time as Children’s Minister and her appointed is seen as a logical move for a smooth transition in the Department.

A loyal supporter and friend of the Taoiseach, she is very much viewed as a liberal on social issues and her appointment is expected to be welcomed by the Labour Party which is keen to advance socially liberal legislation.

Mr Flanagan is chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party and TD for Laois-Offaly.

A solicitor, he was first elected to the Dáil in 1987 but lost his seat in 2002 and was re-elected in 2007.

Over the years he has held a number of front-bench portfolios, including justice.

He is the son of Oliver J Flanagan, who served as Fine Gael TD for the same constituency from 1943 to 1987 and was minister for defence for a time in the Fine Gael Labour coalition in the 1970s.

The appointments end feverish speculation about Alan Shatter’s successor since his shock resignation yesterday in the wake of senior counsel Sean Guerin’s report into allegations of Garda malpractice.

Ms Fitzgerald was the overnight favourite for the position, although speculation also included Mr Flanagan for the job along with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore was included in the speculation for a time this morning but this was quickly ruled out by a number of TDs when it emerged he was in Galway today.

Mr Shatter stepped down ahead of tomorrow’s publication of a report examining allegations of malpractice within the Garda Síochána made by whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The 300-page report was written by Mr Guerin who recommended that a full Commission of Investigation be held into Mr McCabe’s allegations.

The report also contained criticism of the response of Mr Shatter as Minister to the allegations.

It was on the foot of such criticism that the Dublin South TD felt compelled to resign.

Mr Kenny said yesterday the report was “critical of the inadequacy of the actions taken by number of the agencies” notably An Garda Síochána but also including the Department and the Minister in responding to allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

This morning Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins called for the quick establishment of a new Garda authority, to oversee the operations and policing strategies of the force.

Mr Collins said the Government needed to set out a roadmap as a matter of urgency.

More details have also emerged about the run-up to Mr Shatter’s resignation.

Following his receipt of the report on Tuesday night, Mr Kenny held early morning meetings yesterday with Attorney General Máire Whelan and also with Mr Gilmore.

Following the 1916 commemoration at Arbour Hill yesterday, attended by most of the Cabinet, there were further contacts and meetings between Mr Kenny and Mr Shatter.

The Tánaiste was informed Mr Shatter was stepping down in the course of the Labour Party parliamentary meeting in the early afternoon.

In his resignation letter Mr Shatter expressed surprise Mr Guerin had not sought to interview him during the course of his investigation despite making findings in the report that were critical of him.

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