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UK Politics

Ex-journalist Alex White to replace Roisin Shortall as Irish junior health minister


Former journalist and barrister Alex White has been named Labour's new junior minister following the shock departure of Roisin Shortall.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore put forward the Dublin South TD for the ministerial job in the Department of Health, working under Fine Gael minister James Reilly.

A spokeswoman for Mr Gilmore said he will make the formal appointment at the next Cabinet meeting on October 2.

"The Tanaiste said that he looked forward to working with Deputy White in his new role as Minister of State in implementing the commitments in the Programme for Government on health service reforms," she said.

Mr White is chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.

There had been speculation earlier in the year following the publication of the 2012 Constituency Commission report that the Dublin South TD would lose his seat amid the proposed redrawing of constituency boundaries.

The report recommended cutting the number of TDs from 166 to 158 and constituencies from 43 to 40..

This means Dublin, Connacht-Ulster and Munster will each lose three TDs in the next election.

Mr White's Dublin South constituency, under the recommendations, is to move from a five-seat to a three-seat constituency that will be renamed Dublin Rathdown.

This prompted speculation that Mr White, along with Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews, was at risk from the electorate.

Before he was elected to the Irish Parliament in February last year, Mr White worked as a barrister in employment and labour law from 1994.

He also spent 10 years working as a current affairs producer with national broadcaster RTE and in the last four years of his career in journalism he was editor of the Gay Byrne Show.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny backed Mr White's nomination.

"I also want to warmly congratulate Deputy White on his new role and I look forward to him making a significant contribution to the reform and development of our health service," he said.