MONAGHAN EXPECTS – MINISTER HUMPHREYS UNDER IMMEDIATE PRESSURE TO DELIVER IN EXPANDED BRIEF

13 May 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

PETER HUGHES

Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys has been afforded only the briefest of honeymoon periods to settle into her expanded portfolio in the new Government.

Monday’s meeting of Monaghan Co Council saw the Cabinet member immediately petitioned on a range of issues that now fall within her remit as Minister for Regional Development and Rural Affairs, responsibilities added to the Arts and Gaeltacht roles she discharged in the outgoing administration.

Her own FG councillors successfully moved a notice of urgent business seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss her new brief as it affects Co Monaghan, “in particular to reflect the lack of broadband and rural town regeneration.”

There was much speculation in the days and hours preceding the announcement of the make-up of the new FG-led minority government on Friday that Deputy Humphreys would occupy one of the plum, but most highly pressured, Cabinet seats, that with responsibility for Agriculture.

But the expansion of her duties to incorporate new Ministerial functions in the areas of regional development and rural affairs can be interpreted as an elevation in her stature as a Government performer – something of a counterpoint to the “sideways” moves made by two of the perceived pretenders to Enda Kenny’s crown, Leo Varadkar (from Health to Social Protection) and Simon Coveney (from Agriculture to Housing, Planning and Local Government).

Yet, as Monday’s meeting of the Co Council illustrated, Minister Humphreys’ new assignment could prove every bit as pressured as if she had gained the major Ministry she was being touted for by the pundits.

A specific Cabinet appointment to deal with issues relevant to rural Ireland was one of the more insistent demands made in the protracted gestation of the new Government by many TDs, in particular Independents, from countryside constituencies – and it lands on the Humphreys desk ….

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