A Donegal TD who set up the first GAA club in the United Arab Emirates is Ireland’s new Minister for the Disapora.
Joe McHugh is a junior minister – or Minister of State – attached to the Departments of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
His official title is Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Aid.
In the last government he held a similarly ranked post in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Much was made of the fact that he admitted he did not speak Irish but he subsequently set about learning the language.
He is a former teacher of geography and mathematics and served as a senator from 2002 until 2007 when he was elected a Fine Gael TD for his Donegal constituency.
In the last general election Fine Gael promised that if elected back to government it would “fully explore the matter of voting rights for Irish citizens resident outside the State, with a view to holding a referendum on giving them the right to vote in presidential elections”.
It also promised to “identify and address the needs of emigrants wishing to return home to Ireland”, and to hold The Gathering again, in 2019.