A MAN OF HIS WORD The new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, hinted in an exclusive interview with The Mayo News on May 29, that Michael Ring may be a member of his front bench, and yesterday he delivered the good news to the Westport TD that he had been chosen as Minister for Community and Rural Affairs. The two men are pictured shaking hands outside Deputy Ring's office when Mr Varadkar attended the funeral of the late Patsy Gill. Pic: Conor McKeown
Westport TD crowns 23-year Dáil career by becoming a front-bench Minister
Newly-appointed Minister for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring has described his promotion as his career highlight.
Minister Ring was revealed as a new member of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s cabinet yesterday (Wednesday) evening and steps up from a junior ministry.
It also means that Mayo retain a presence at cabinet after Leo Varadkar took over from Enda Kenny also on Wednesday.
“It is a great feeling. I’m really happy and delighted with the portfolio and it is great for the county, and particularly for Westport, and I’m delighted to have the honour and I am delighted for the people of Mayo. I’m only representing them and I’m delighted to be accepting the responsibility on their behalf,” Minister Ring told The Mayo News this morning.
He said the appointment is his career highlight, even usurping his dramatic by-election success in 1994.
“It is (the highlight), there’s no doubt about it. The by-election win (in 1994) was probably the greatest day of my life at the time but this is such a great achievement to get to the top, get to the cabinet and I’m very proud,” he added.
The Westport TD said he has been inundated with well wishes ‘from across the political divide’ in the hours since the news was confirmed.
His role is to head up a new department set-up by the Taoiseach and when we spoke, Minister Ring was in between meetings about the formulation of the Department of Community and Rural Affairs.
Minister Ring said that he has been given a ‘strong commitment’ the Department will be well resourced.
“The Taoiseach has given me a strong commitment that I will have funding and he wants to regenerate rural Ireland again and he wants to send out a strong message that he is supportive of rural Ireland, that’s why he has created this Department, that’s why he has put me into it.
“He’s trying to make sure that the rural voice be at the cabinet table and there will be a number of rural voices there. He’s very anxious that I would get the funding that I need. It’s not all about funding and I’m not going to be able to resolve every single problem, I know that, but I will do my best. I will have the commitment of the Taoiseach and the Government to support me in every way,” said Minister Ring.
In announcing the appointment of Michael Ring to his cabinet last night, Taoiseach Varadkar also outlined the role the TD for Mayo would fill.
“I am appointing Michael Ring to head up a newly reformed Department of Community and Rural Affairs. His role will be to support local communities in all parts of Ireland and also to ensure that rural areas, market towns and villages that have not experienced economic recovery do so,” said the Taoiseach.
A special homecoming function will be held tonight at 9pm in Dome Suite of the Castlecourt Hotel, with Minister Ring expected to arrive in his State car, around that time. It is expected that the West Mayo Municipal District of Mayo County Council will accord Minister Ring a Civic Reception in Westport in the coming weeks. A date is expected to be announced at next Monday's meeting of the authority.
MORE For a more in-depth interview see next Tuesday’s Mayo News