New Minister has strong local connections
Photo: One of the two new ‘Super Junior’ Ministers announced at the weekend is Hildegarde Naughton, who has strong connections to south Roscommon.
There's great pride this week in the Drum and Moore areas of south Roscommon at the elevation of Galway TD Hildegarde Naughton to one of the so-called 'Super Junior Minister' positions in the new cabinet.
The former primary school teacher was appointed Minister of State, attending cabinet, with responsibility for international & road transport & logistics, where she'll work alongside Minister Eamon Ryan in the Department of Climate Action and Transport on Saturday.
Hildegarde’s connections to the local area are extremely strong - her mother Marguerite (O'Connell) grew up in Curryroe, Drum, adjacent to Glendeer Pet Farm, and her father PJ is originally from Falty, Moore.
Her “strong passion for politics” has seen her progress over the years from being elected to Galway City Council in 2009, to serving as Mayor two years later and then being nominated to Seanad in 2013, then elected a TD in 2016, and now a Minister of State, according to her proud first cousin Kevina O'Connell.
Her father Eamonn is Hildegarde's uncle, while she has two other aunts in Drum, Patricia May and Bernie Hynes, and another aunt Mary Boland lives in nearby Ballinasloe.
“We're very proud of her. She has worked very hard and has maintained her desire and genuine want for positive change in a not easy world (politics) especially for women,” Kevina said from Glendeer Pet Farm on Monday last, their first day back to business following the lockdown.
“She is a regular visitor to the area, she loves animals so she loves seeing the animals in Glendeer Pet Farm,” Kevina added.
Eamonn O'Connell echoed that pride in Hildegarde's achievements, saying that there is great excitement locally since her Drum links have become known in recent days with phone calls and messages of congratulations coming in, albeit without a family celebration because of Covid-19.
Steeped in Fine Gael on both sides of the family, he said everyone is delighted for Hildegarde because she has done a lot for Galway and is an extremely hard-working public representative.
Over in Moore, there is also great joy among her many relatives on the Naughton side at her appointment following her recent work as one of the negotiators of the Programme for Government, and her high profile as Chairperson of the Oireachtas. Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Her father PJ Naughton, now based in Oranmore, was a member of the National Executive of Fine Gael in the 1980s. From a large family, his brother Sean and sister Geraldine (Egan) still live in Falty, Moore, while sister Mary (Noone) lives in Clontarf, Oliver is based in Kilcock, Anne (King) lives in Monaghan, Veronica (Walsh) lives in Laurencestown and brother Dermot is based at Beagh, in nearby Creagh. Another sister Elizabeth (Mullins) is sadly deceased.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent on Monday, her uncle Dermot Naughton in Creagh said that he, and the family, are very proud of Hildegarde and she deserves it because she is an extremely hard worker.
“She is more than capable and highly intelligent,” he said of his niece and her new position, adding that she is a fluent in French, a trained soprano singer and has been on stage in drama productions.
“She's an all-rounder but politics is her love. She is a credit to her parents; she has proved herself in a short time (in politics), and she will go places,” he said proudly.