Josepha Madigan

TWO cabinet ministers now hail from the three-seat constituency of Dublin Rathdown with the appointment of Deputy Josepha Madigan to the Arts portfolio last week. The Dundrum TD, (47) was appointed as the new Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following the resignation of former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.
She replaces Heather Humphreys who will now become Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as Simon Coveney has taken over as Tanaiste.
Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Minister Madigan said it is a “great honour and privilege to be entrusted with the position”.
“I look forward to playing my role as a member of Cabinet in building towards the best possible future for all in this country.”
A non-fluent Irish speaker, there has been some rumblings in the last week about her suitability for a ministerial position with responsibility for the Gaeltacht, but she explained that she doesn’t think it will be a hinderance.
“While my Irish is not fluent, I am passionate about the language and look forward to doing everything I can to further our language and our culture,” she said.
“A person’s capabilities in Irish are not a fair reflection of their love for their native language. I will do everything possible to promote Irish in my role as Minister.”
While she is delighted with her promotion, she says the circumstances in which she was appointed to the Cabinet was “not something [she] wanted to see happen”.
“Frances Fitzgerald was an excellent Tánaiste and Minister and I take no pleasure whatsoever in what has happened to her. That, unfortunately, is the nature of politics at times,” she said.
“If I can show the same type of compassion, dedication and commitment to being a Minister as Frances Fitzgerald did, then I’ll be making a good start to my new role.”
A solicitor and mother of two boys, Minister Madigan was elected to the Dail for the first time in the 2016 general election. Prior to that she served as a councillor in the Stillorgan ward.
Since becoming a TD, she has drawn up two pieces of legislation. The first is on speeding up the divorce process for couples and the second seeks to factor in the use of social media into the laws governing contempt of court.
She was also an active member of the Public Accounts Committee and Chaired the Oireachtas Budgetary Oversight Committee since being elected.
Speaking on her new portfolio, she said she hopes to bring her varied background and experience to the role.
“In my Department, I look forward to working on various issues including the upcoming Heritage Bill; we are launching the Creative Children Programme this Thursday; 2018 will be Bliain na Gaeilge – there are many positive projects to develop and promote our language and Ireland’s unique, strong culture and heritage.”
While she is rising through the ranks at a speedy rate, Ms Madigan has gained some negative criticism for a leaflet she produced about the Traveller halting site in Mount Anville.
She received backlash for describing the halting site as a “dreadful waste of taxpayers’ money”, but has since explained that she was not attempting to portray an anti-traveller stance, but was criticising the Council’s proposal to house only four families on the site, which is worth several million euro.
“As for those who still criticise the leaflet, I say it is in the past. If they want to dig up something from 2014 when there are so many current issues to work on, let them keep on looking at events in 2014.”

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