Brendan Griffin has been announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as the new Minister of State with responsibility for Tourism and Sport.
As such he takes over from the popular Patrick O’Donovan who served a little over a year in the Department but made a big impact in terms of the handling of the Olympics crisis, moving on Women in Sport and encouraging hope that multi-annual funding could be a genuine aspiration in the short term.
O’Donovan has moved now into the Department of Finance as a junior minister with responsibility for public procurement, open government and egovernment. We wish him well in that move and thank him for his and his Department’s strong advocacy for sport since taking on the role.
Brendan Griffin comes into the role now with a stronger background than many previous Ministers having served as Chair of the Oireachtas Committee for Tourism, Transport and Sport since the present Government came to power in 2016.
His latest public engagement before being given the promotion was to unveil a statue in Sneem last weekend to Kerry football legend John Egan so we know, as one would expect from a Kerry TD, that sport figures highly in his affections.
Hailing from the village of Castlemaine, made famous as the home of the mythical Wild Colonial Boy, Griffin comes into office with a strong sense of the background to Government’s relationship to sport.
Read more: Sport’s Strong Hand in Government
He is not afraid, like his predecessors O’Donovan and Michael Ring to speak out on matters of sporting and public interest and we expect that the role will retain a high level of public and media engagement.
Griffin came to prominence as a second term TD after the last election when becoming the first backbench TD to call publicly for Enda Kenny to step down as leader.
That call went unheeded but in the great tradition of political stalking horses it set in train a chain of events that has led to the last two Senior Minister responsible for the sports portfolio, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohue holding the two highest elected offices in the land.
Griffin will hope to strike a good working relationship with senior Minister Shane Ross and one of the key deliverables of his term in office is likely to be the new National Policy on Sport which is currently being drawn up by Department Officials.
He goes back to Young Fine gael days with Varadkar and would be highly regarded within the party and the Dáil. Who knows how long he may be in situ with sport but isn’t it the quality of engagement rather than the longevity that really matters most of all.
We have high hopes that this will be seen as a good appointment.
Find out more about our next major event looking at the impact of Sport for Social Good in September 2017.