Elections Live

What's happening on the campaign trail - and more

Áine McMahon, Fiach Kelly Thu, May 8
LIVE: Elections Live

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  • 09:18

    Good morning, and welcome again to Elections Live on irishtimes.com.  

    Áine McMahon here on Day 3 of our special super bonus Elections Live Blog.  

    Fiach Kelly, our Political Correspondent will also be joining me to keep you updated with all the political news, analysis and gossip from the campaign trail and beyond.

    His updates will be signed FK and mine AMcM.  

    With Alan Shatter's shock resignation yesterday, it's set to be a very busy day on the political front.  

  • 09:19
  • 09:21

    Our lead story today and most read on the site -  Taoiseach Enda Kenny will appoint a new Minister for Justice today following the shock resignation of Alan Shatter, one of the leading figures in the Coalition.

    The departure of Mr Shatter represents a severe blow to a Government that was widely lauded for its competence during its first three years in office, Stephen Collins reports.  

    Mr Kenny told an astonished Dáil chamber yesterday evening that Mr Shatter stepped down as a result of the inquiry by Seán Guerin SC into allegations of Garda malpractice.  

  • 09:33
  • 09:34
  • 09:35
  • 09:35
    Well this will get tongues wagging... AMcM
  • 09:37
    So that's why all the Fianna Fail candidates look like they're trapped in a Windows 97 screensaver #blueskythinking AMcM
  • 09:45

    At 10.45am, the Dáil will hear who is replacing Minister for Justice and Defence, and formerly Time - Alan Shatter. You can watch proceeding when it kicks off here.

    At Noon in the Dail, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will have to deal with questions from the chamber - Shatter's resignation is likely to feature highly.

  • 09:56

    So with that in mind, who is going to be the lucky lady or gent to get the job?

    Four Fine Gael TDs names are all cropping up as Labour has kindly agreed to let Fine Gael hang on to the Justice job.

    Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar is considered an early frontrunner... he has spoke out before in favour of the garda whistleblowers, describing their actions as "distinguished".  

    Meanwhile FG party chairman Charlie Flanagan who is also a former justice spokesman has also been tipped.

    Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is also in with a shout while Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald may also get the nod.

  • 09:56
    That's us told
  • 10:01

    There's no such thing as a typical local election candidate, writes Steven Carroll.

    A cheesemonger, a lollipopman, an explosives supervisor and a self-proclaimed “man of leisure” are among those linked by a common desire to win a seat on a county or city council later this month. AMcM

  • 10:05
    Curiouser and Curiouser....! AMcM
  • 10:09
  • 10:09
  • 10:20
    Is it too late to throw a few quid on Frances Fitzgerald getting the gig so?! Can only imagine the awkward chit chat. AMcM
  • 10:29
  • 10:43

    Alan Shatter's replacement is set to be announced at around 10.45 am - You can watch procedings live here.


  • 10:45
    Maybe he forgot his lunch? AMcM
  • 10:46
    Rumour mill in overdrive atm... AMcM
  • 10:57
    Frances Fitzgerald is our new Minister for Justice with Charlie Flanagan taking her place as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
  • 10:58
  • 11:00
  • 11:05

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny is now Minister for Defence FYI  


  • 11:06
    Careful Now! AMcM
  • 11:12
    New Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (64) was first elected as a TD for Dublin South-East in 1992, but lost her seat in 2002. However, she was then elected to the Seanad in 2007 and served as the Fine Gael leader in the Upper House until winning a Dáil seat in Dublin Mid-West in the 2011 election. Ms Fitzgerald emerged as staunch ally of Enda Kenny, particularly during the 2010 heave against Mr Kenny, and she was appointed as the first Minster for Children of senior Cabinet rank, a position that had only previously been a junior ministerial portfolio, by the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition. Her main achievements during her term include passing the children’s referendum and introducing the children’s first legislation. Originally from Limerick, Ms Fitzgerald was formerly chairperson of the National Women’s Council and vice-president of European Women’s Lobby. Her reputation as a Kenny ally is likely to have worked in her favour when the Taoiseach looked for a replacement for Alan Shatter. She is married to Michael Fitzgerald and has three sons.
  • 11:14
  • 11:23
    New Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD, must end a five year delay on key reforms of the immigration system and ensure a robust response to rising levels of racism as well as sex trafficking, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.  The Council says despite increased demands on Minister Fitzgerald there must be no loss of momentum in delivering reforms which would positively impact on tens of thousands of people who call Ireland home.  Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland added:  “We welcome the appointment of Minister Fitzgerald and look forward to positive engagement in the months ahead as we enter a key period in terms of Immigration Reform in Ireland."
  • 11:27

    Gerry Adams has asked where Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is.

    He's apparently away out wesht launching Lorraine Higgins' European election campaign. AMcM


  • 11:29
    Senator Lorraine Higgins - a bit of a rascal; if this tweet is anything to go by. AMcM
  • 11:31
  • 11:46

    Dan Neville will take over as Chairman of Fine Gael until the party has their AGM following Charlie Flanagan's appointment as Minister for Children.  


  • 11:51
  • 12:01
    Terrible puns courtesy of Conor Pope...! AMcM
  • 12:06

    Charlie Flanagan’s appointment to Cabinet has been approved by 80 votes to 35.

    Meawnhile, Kieran Timmins has been appointed Chief Executive of the Central Remedial Clinic. It follows Paul Kiely's resignation in controversial circumstances in December last year.  

  • 12:09
  • 12:31

    Parliamentary reporter and Kerry man Michael O'Regan has this piece on Kerry county council elections.

    "The issues are unemployment, ghost estates and housing lists, proposed water charges and problems with supply, wind farms in north Kerry and the turf-cutting controversy in Listowel," he writes. More here.  

  • 12:44
  • 12:50

    The Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Defence has welcomed the decision to separate Cabinet responsibility for the Departments of Defence and Justice.

    "Fianna Fail has consistently called for the two departments to be separated and reiterated that call in the party’s submission for the White Paper on Defence. The decision in March 2011 to assign the Defence portfolio as a subsidiary role to the Minister for Justice indicated an essential lack of respect for the position. Furthermore it is almost without parallel in the democratic world for the Minister with political responsibility for policing to also be in charge of the military. Only tiny Luxembourg follows this policy.

    “While it is not unreasonable to assign Defence with another Cabinet portfolio, to do so with Justice and Equality, one of the busiest government departments, was a retrograde decision. “We believe that the restoration of Defence as a lead portfolio in Cabinet would be a clear affirmation of the value we as a State must place on our Defence Forces,” he said


  • 13:01

    Getting away from all things political for a minute -  

    With the world cup around the corner, Panini sticker books of soccer players are all the rage again. It even prompted a teacher to steal his student's stickers just to fill his own!  

    Surely we can all relate to buying packets of Panini stickers as a young one and getting Clinton Morrison in every pack when ALL you wanted was Packie Bonner?! Ok just me then.  

    Read more here.  AmcM

  • 13:03
  • 13:15

    How the opposition TDs' have reacted to today's announcement... AMcM  


    Micheal Martin, leader of Fianna Fail has given his reaction to the new justice role: “Appointing a new minister does not by itself deal with what has happened and the unprecedented collapse in public confidence in vital parts of the administration of justice,” he said. Mr Martin said Ireland was being denied even basic information about how the Garda Commissioner was “pushed” into resigning.

    Meawnhile, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams called for the parliament to commend Garda whistleblowers — serving Sergeant Maurice McCabe and retired John Wilson — for their role in exposing the controversies. “Instead they were smeared, bullied, dismissed,” he said. Mr Adams said there was a culture of secrecy, maladministration, unaccountability and no oversight at the top of the Garda and other State agencies that needed reform. “There is a crisis of public confidence in the administration of justice,” he said. “These problems will not be resolved by rearranging the deck chairs.”

    Independent TD Mick Wallace — who has been to the fore in calls for investigations into alleged Garda wrongdoing — said it would be a wonderful achievement if Ms Fitzgerald turned around the force and made it a service in which people are proud. “Accountability is not something that they do,” he said.  

    While Independent TD Clare Daly said the country was at a crossroads over the future of policing.

  • 13:49
  • 13:51
    News reaches us that Fine Gael TDs John Paul Phelan,Eoghan Murphy and Kieran O'Donnell are to be nominated to the upcoming banking inquiry committee. They have it all ahead of them!  
  • 13:59

    Oh dear, it seems Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has put his foot in it again.

    Earlier today, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Labour Minister of sexism during heated Dáil exchanges on Alan Shatter’s resignation.

    Speaking in the Dáil today, Ruairí Quinn said he never ceased to be amazed at the warm affection and “motherly concern’’ Ms McDonald expressed for the well being and future of the Labour party. “I cherish it deeply and know that we are well liked and minded by you…and that if we ever begin to go somewhat astray, you will, in a careful way, look after us,’’ he added.

    Ms McDonald said Mr Quinn’s reference to her as motherly, “to the cackles of your almost exclusively male audience’’, did not go down well with her or mothers who might be watching the proceedings. “I do not appreciate the tone of that remark," she added.

    This is the latest gaffe from Quinn, last month he was strongly criticised for remarks about a “highly feminised audience and profession” at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) conference. Hell hath no fury, etc... AMcM

  • 14:02
    Former Irish Times Editor and Garda Ombudsman Conor Brady's reaction to today's announcement
  • 14:09
  • 14:11
    Now that would be an interesting mooove. I'm here all week. AMcM
  • 14:16
    Poor aul Johnny Healy Rae or JHR as he's known to pals had one of his election posters shot through with bullet holes. AMcM
  • 14:21

    Good news for those of you who enjoy a cupla focail - An Irish Language version of the European Parliament’s website is now available.

    Speaking in Galway today, MEP Jim Higgins said “It is very important, that, as we move to an age where everything is online, that Irish speakers right to access information about the EU is available in Irish. This has been a long time coming, and I have kept the pressure on so that resources could be put into the Irish language version.”

    “Ireland already pays the same amount into to the EU budget regardless of whether or not Irish is used. This new development will mean more jobs for Irish people, to update and maintain the Irish website."

  • 14:25
  • 14:28

    Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he congratulated both ministers on their appointments but that a “reshuffling of the deckchairs” was not going to bring about substantial change, Steven Carroll reports.

    He said he was “mindful of the trauma” that Mr Shatter and his family would be experiencing at this time and that the former minister was not on his own.

    “The Taoiseach took charge of this in March after his conversation with the Attorney General. What we want to see is the Government going because I don’t have any confidence in this Government beyond its rhetoric to be a genuinely reforming government,” he said.
    Mr Adams said people justifiably had concerns about “the administration of justice in the upper echelons of the garda” but that this had spread to a lack of confidence in governance which was “absolutely the Taoiseach’s fault”.
    “[Mr Kenny] can’t blame big boys for this. It happened on his watch. The troika can’t be blamed and even Fianna Fail, even though they are culpable in some of these matters, can’t be blamed. It happened on the Taoiseach’s watch and he should go.”

  • 14:51
  • 15:05

    The appointment of Francis Fitzgerald as Justice Minister today marks a milestone in Irish public life as Ireland’s justice system is now completely headed by women.

    Minister Fitzgerald joins an array of talented female professionals who hold the top positions in the State across Justice Portfolios, according to Women for Election.

    They include Interim Garda Commissioner (Noírin O Sullivan), Attorney General (Máire Whelan SC), Director of Public Prosecutions (Claire Loftus), Chief State Solicitor (Eileen Creedon) and the Chief Justice (Susan Denham).
    Commenting on Francis Fitzgerald’s appointment today Niamh Gallagher, Co-Founder of Women for Election wished Minister Fitzgerald success in her new role and said, “The fact that our justice system is now headed by a pool of talented women is a marker of how far we have come in Irish public life. The skills and talents of Irish female professionals are finally being recognised."

    However as one hack quipped earlier, all the major criminals in Ireland, are still men. haw haw


  • 15:23
  • 15:30
  • 15:38
  • 15:40
  • 15:41
  • 16:00
    Minister for Health and Fine Gael TD James Reilly will not be attending the INMO conference tomorrow because he is ill.  
  • 16:08
  • 16:11
    Charlie Flanagan looking unimpressed.  
    Charlie Flanagan looking unimpressed.  
  • 16:22
    Speaking at her first press conference as Minister for Justice - Frances Fitzgerald said she would pay tribute to the work that whistleblower Maurice McCabe has done but wouldn't make any comment on Alan Shatter who resigned yesterday.  
  • 16:31
  • 16:44

    Statement from Early Childhood Ireland CEO Teresa Heeney:

    “We want to welcome Charlie Flanagan as our new Minister for Children & Youth Affairs whose priority challenge must be to fuel the early childhood education sector with the right level of investment. Minister Flanagan’s arrival coincides with our pre budget call for an additional investment of €351 million from his Department which should be considered in the context of the €300 million plus taken out of the sector in 2009 when the Early Childhood Supplement was removed. Minister Flanagan is no stranger to the real challenges in our sector as a former Spokesperson on Children and we expect him to continue to speak up for and invest in young children, particularly in their formative early years."

  • 16:47
    Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said: “The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has worked with Minister Frances Fitzgerald since her appointment as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and has found her to be a dedicated, energetic and committed Minister, who had at the heart of her tenure for the past three years, the welfare and well being of the children of Ireland. She delivered on her promise to put the Rights of the Child into our Constitution and led the Children’s Rights Referendum. She oversaw the establishment of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, which was formally established on January 1st this year. She has also brought forward the Bill to put Child Protection on a statutory footing.  She has been an unrelenting supporter of the prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Ireland and we look forward to working with her in her new role as Minister for Justice and Equality, to deliver on the proposed welcome legislation initiated by her colleague Minister Shatter. We congratulate her and we wish her every success."
  • 16:49
    Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald press briefing
    Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said a “crisis of confidence” in An Garda Siochana has to be “dealt with and has to be changed”. In her first public comments since her appointment this morning, Ms Fitzgerald also paid tribute to the Garda whistleblowers. “We do have to listen to critics,” she said. FK
  • 16:54

    We'll leave it there today, thanks for joining us.

    The live election blog is back again tomorrow from 9am.