Updated: 15/06/17 : 04:46:28
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Perry legal eagle takes top job in new Cabinet

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor


THE ACE legal eagle who opposed John Perry in his fight with Fine Gael took the top job in the new Cabinet announced late last night, Wednesday.

Seamus Woulfe will become Attorney General with a full seat in the new Government.

His appointment and those of all Cabinet ranked Ministers is subject to being ratified by the Dáil.

Early Pledge

Earlier yesterday Leo Varadkar was approved as new Taoiseach on a vote of 57 for, 50 against and 45 abstentions.

Most of those abstentions came from Fianna Fáil, an irony in a week when it attacked Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy in Westminster. 

Tellers on the vote for Varadkar were Chief Whip Regina Doherty, assisted by Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin. 

Meanwhile, the appointment of Seamus Woulfe as Attorney General might signal some stymies in 'the way back' for former Sligo TD John Perry.

Half Million

Varadkar was critical several times in recent party hustings around the country of ''party members fees'' spent in the Perry case.

It is reliably suggested that the case won by John Perry cost Fine Gael half a million euro in the lead-up to the last general election 16 months ago. See link (1) below

Perry was added to the party ticket in late 2015 after a High Court challenge to his deselection at a party convention in Drumshanbo three months earlier.

After a career of 19 continuous years in the Dáil, John Perry was ousted by voters in this region in the February 2016 general election.

His failed pledge from the previous general election to restore cancer services to Sligo (University) Hospital ''within 100 days'' was seen as key in that first-ever Dail defeat.

                        John Perry following his successful High Court case in 2015


In the December 2015 High Court challenge, JohnnPerry was represented by Mr Micheal P O’Higgins, senior counsel.

He appeared with barrister Padraic Lyons, instructed by Gerard Gannon of Claffey Gannon solicitors.

Fine Gael trustees were represented by Seamus Woulfe, senior counsel and now nominated to be Ireland's new Attorney General.

The other senior counsel engaged by Fine Gael was Pat McCann.

He appeared with barrister Michael Binchey, instructed by Kevin O’Higgins of Kevin O’Higgins and Co -- the ex President of the Incorporated Law Society.

All Birthdays

In contrast, Fine Gael's sitting Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin must have felt all his birthdays had come together yesterday.

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell OConnor -- who has several Sligo links -- was the only senior person sacked by Varadkar on his first day in power.

Minister O'Connor and McLoughlin clashed openly -- and strongly -- at a Fine Gael party meeting last winter. See Link (2) below

The issue was jobs, or lack of them, attracted to Sligo by the senior Minister.

Only Five

It may get even better yet for McLoughlin who, like many TDs, was observed on his mobile phone in the Dail minutes before the new Cabinet was revealed.

There are now only five members of Fine Gael who hold no rank, observed the Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin.

This raises the possibility that Tony McLoughlin may yet be appointed to junior Minister rank.

This region's other key TDs have been promoted to senior Cabinet rank, Taoiseach Varadkar announced last night.

Michael Ring in Mayo got a new Cabinet post dealing with Rural Affairs.

Secondly, Joe McHugh in Donegal will be tasked with promoting the Irish language.

McHugh is a relative novice when it come to speaking Irish himself, which clearly helped him land his role. 

The new Taoiseach is unlikely to be give much of a honeymoon, his main opponents suggested in Dáil speeches last night.

Fine Gael has already lost three elections In a row, starting with the 2011 contest for the Presidency.

Then in May 2014 Fine Gael was decimated in elections to the new local authority structures.

Finally, the party was heavily defeated in the most  general election, held last year.

Varadkar's speech yesterday about ''opportunity'' evoked Margaret Thatcher's similar pledge as Tory leader in Britain three decades ago.

Some in his party are also unimpressed, The Irish Examiner suggests this morning.

The arithmetic suggests that Varadkar is vulnerable on all and any Dáil votes.

The new Taoiseach has opted for little change from the Cabinet inherited from the party's elder statesman, Enda Kenny.

Indeed, independent TD Mattie McGrath quoted 1960s rock band, The Who, in a withering words on the new order. 

The Who quote quoted was ''Meet the new boss/ Same as the old boss.''

The song's title will not be the soundtrack for the next election, namely, ''Won't Get Fooled Again!''

New Cabinet

The appointments to the new Cabinet announced to the Dáil shortly before 9pm last night were:-

Tanaiste - Frances Fitzgerald;

Attorney General - Seamus Woulfe;

Department of Enterprise & Innovation - Frances Fitzgerald;

Department of Finance plus Department of Public Expenditure & Reform - Paschal Donohoe;

Department of Education & Skills to: Richard Bruton;

Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade: Simon Coveney;

Department of Justice & Equality: Charles Flanagan;

Department of Culture: Heather Humphreys;

Department of Health: Simon Harris;

Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine: Michael Creed;

Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment: Denis Naughten;

Department of the Transport, Tourism & Sport: Shane Ross;

Department of Children & Youth Affairs: Katherine Zappone;

Department of Community & Rural Affairs (new): Michael Ring;

Department of Employment & Social Protection: Regina Doherty;

Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government: Eoghan Murphy.

Super Junior

Four appointments were also announced to the rank of 'Super Junior Minister.'

These can attend Cabinet meetings but have no voting rights.

Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin criticised the latest round of 'super juniors' as an 'abuse' when he spoke in the Dail afterwards.

Originally, recalled Martin, there had been only one such post.

This had been created in the 1990s Rainbow Coalition to facilitate the appointment of Pat Rabbitte to attend cabinet meetings.

The ''Super Junior Ministers'' announced last night were:-

1. Joe McHugh - Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands;

2. Paul Kehoe - Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence with special responsibility for Defence;

3. Finian McGrath - Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Justice & Equality, and the Department of Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues;

4. Mary Mitchell O'Connor - Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education.

Links. (1) Sligo Today 4/1/2016

(2) Sligo Today 13/10/2016