*Deputy Joe Carey (FG). Photograph: Natasha Barton
CLARE TD Joe Carey (FG) has confirmed he will be standing in the next General Election despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) once again overlooking him for a Junior Ministry.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the double setback of missing out on a Junior Ministry in December for the Cabinet reshuffle and again last month with the resignation of Damien English (FG) as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Carey has expressed hope that he will soon be elevated in the political ranks.
Prior to the reshuffle, political correspondent Philip Ryan wrote in The Irish Independent referencing the Clarecastle native and the need to “spare a thought” for the likes of him who have been elected on numerous occasions but “have never been deemed good enough by their party leaders for promotion”.
First elected in the 2007 General Election, Carey is a four-time TD but it wasn’t until December that he was strongly considered for a Junior Ministry. “It was great to be in the frame and to be mentioned,” he said. “We’re in a three-party Government, there are very limited opportunities for promotion to the ministerial ranks whether that be junior or senior, it would be nice to be promoted in that way but it didn’t arise on this opportunity, hopefully in the future it will”.
That first-time TD Hildegarde Naughton (FG) was appointed as a super Junior Minister ahead of Joe didn’t add to his frustration, he said. “It’s an absolute privilege to be elected as a TD for Clare, you’re so busy at that whether it is at a national or local level that I’m just getting on with the task at hand. I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get promoted, I’ve had many a time that you could have been disappointed but you just get on with, work away and do my level best for the people of Clare”.
Stronger speculation linked Deputy Carey with the vacancy created following Damien English’s resignation but instead Varadkar opted for another first-time TD, Neale Richmond (FG) meaning three TDs within the Dublin-Rathdown constituency are either Ministers or Junior Ministers while there are none within the Clare constituency.
When asked if the promotion of Richmond following the disappointment of December was a two-fingers from the Taoiseach who didn’t make contact with him on the matter, Carey stated, “I’d like to see more representation in Government ranks whether they be in Junior or Senior Ministries along the west coast, I’ve made those feelings known and other parliamentarians in Fine Gael have said that too. A decision has been made, I moved on very quickly after it. We all can’t get what we want, it was great to be in the mix and for my name to be mentioned, I look forward to the day that I will be appointed, I believe I will, you never know when that day will be”.
Reiterating that he has moved on from the double overlooking, Deputy Carey was clear, “I think everyone in politics wants to progress, I’ve been elected to the Dáil on four separate occasions, I certainly want to be a Minister or Minister of State”.
“I wouldn’t say it was a setback. I had no expectation but there was a lot of speculation, it was great to be mentioned and considered, it is a privilege but ultimately when it didn’t happen you just have to move on. It is a huge privilege to be elected for Co Clare, there’s a huge amount of work to be done as we’ve discussed”.
He told The Clare Echo of his hope that he may receive an elevation in the coming weeks. “There are very limited opportunities. I’m a member of the Transport Committee, maybe there is a possibility that I could be appointed Chairperson there, maybe I won’t but that is maybe an opportunity in the next few weeks I might get positive news on that”.
An absence of a Clare voice around the Cabinet table has not made issues in the region such as health services and Shannon Airport worse off, he maintained. “I think if you’re a Minister you have a national obligation and you’ve an obligation to look after the whole country, I don’t think it’s any harm to have a Minster from the Mid-West, we have two very able Ministers in Patrick O’Donovan and Niall Collins, we also have Kieran O’Donnell from Limerick City who was recently appointed. We’ve had Ministers in the past and I’m sure we will in the future.
“You do have an obligation to look after the whole country as a Minister or Minister of State, we’ve seven Oireachtas members in Clare, everyone of them are working night and day, they are in touch with all the relevant Ministers and Cabinet to try get the best outcome for the people of Co Clare on the bigger issues like health, housing and Shannon, we do try to work collectively as a group of Clare TDs, we do put on the Clare jersey, I have a good working relationship with all the Oireachtas members in Clare”.
Former Clare TD, Pat Breen (FG) held a Junior Minister’s role for four years but for seven of Fine Gael’s eleven years in Government, representatives from Clare have not been considered for big roles. “We did have a very senior Minister in Michael Noonan in Limerick City which is not a million miles from Clare, prior to that we had Tony Killeen who was a Minister for consecutive Governments as was Sile de Valera, my Dad was a Minister of State between 1995 and 1997 which were great times for the county on the hurling field at least. We can’t change it now but you need to be lucky in politics, opportunities arise and you have to be in the right position at the right time to get them and capitalise on those, as time moves on please God an opportunity might arise someone in Co Clare will be appointed either a senior or junior Minister”.
Deputy Carey confirmed to The Clare Echo that he will be standing at the next General Election, unlike his party colleague in Kerry Brendan Griffin (FG) who announced he will not on the ballot paper, subsequent to missing out on the Chief Whip.
Two years ago, Pat Breen lost his seat leaving Fine Gael with only one TD in the county. As the party’s only sitting TD, Joe acknowledged that his bid could be stronger had he been given a higher role within Fine Gael. “I’ve never been a Junior Minister before and I’ve jumped four General Election fences and I intend to jump the next fence as well, all I can do is win my seat and I’m determined to do it. I can’t do that without people’s support and without working for the people of Clare, that is the beauty of democracy it is the people who they elect and I look forward to engaging with people on the issues in an election campaign whenever that happens”.