That's myself and Mary White at the front of Leinster House earlier this evening. We've both just become Ministers for State. Mary will have responsibilities in the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, and I'll be continuing the work that Trevor Sargent has been doing in the Department of Agriculture relating to food policy and horticulture, as well as taking on the Smarter Travel Plan and responsibilities in Environment, Heritage and Local Government in planning, architecture and climate change. No pressure, as they say!
It is a huge honour, and one heck of a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it. Our annual Convention kicks off in Waterford on Friday night, and on Monday I'm hoping to be on the first
scheduled train on the restored Western Rail Line between Galway and Limerick.
The job description consists of joining the dots in sustainability in the way we plan, the way we farm and the way we travel. As we cope with the the huge financial and employment challenges in Ireland it is easy to forget about the need to tackle climate change, peak oil and energy security. Hopefully my new role will allow me address these issues in some small way in each Department. I'm sad to be leaving behind the work I was doing, particularly in Justice, Equality and Law Reform, but I'm pleased to hand over the work to Mary White who is more than capable. She will be kept busy with the Civil Partnership Bill in Committee later this month, and lots more besides.
Everyone I met after the announcement has been full of helpful advice, from Enda Kenny to Donie Cassidy. I guess I'll sleep on it all, and see if I can find myself a new office in the morning.