Family affair spanning the Irish Sea

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The Independent Online
In a world where who you know is often more important than what you know, Frank Short can now count himself as one of the better connected people.

The appointment of a new Dublin government means the schoolmaster from Co Louth, Ireland, has close relatives in both the Irish and British cabinets.

Mr Short is a first cousin of Clare Short, Britain's Minister for Overseas Development and of Ireland's new Social, Community and Family Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern.

He is principal of a school in the Irish border town of Dundalk. His father and Ms Short's father - who is from Crossmaglen, across the border in Co Armagh - were brothers. His mother and Mr Ahern's mother were sisters and just to cement the connection, Mr Short is married to Mr Ahern's wife's sister.

But Mr Short said he would not be using his political connections for personal gain.

"The family knows both cousins well and their political elevations will not change our relationship with them," he said.

Kate Watson-Smyth