Updated: 30/03/18 : 14:06:57
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Fianna Fáil front bench reshuffle 'not gearing up for election' says Martin

The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has denied his party reshuffle means it is gearing up for a general election.

Mr Martin says preparing for elections is a continuous process, but the shake-up was not inspired by an impending vote.

Most notable among the changes was the promotion of Dara Calleary to deputy leader yesterday.

However, Mr Martin says it is not about winning votes.

He said: "That will be said, but as far as we are concerned preparing for an election is an ongoing process within any political party.

"One is always, from the date of the last election in policy terms, in organisation terms and in candidate selection terms, one is already focussing and thinking ahead.

"So that's not the context of this, I think the context is I wanted to give more experience to certain people."

By selecting Mr Calleary, viewed as safe and steady but very popular in the party, as deputy leader, Mr Martin cleverly freed up a position on his front bench — although a number of TDs are sure to have been disappointed when they didn’t get a call yesterday afternoon.

The extra space was snapped up by Jack Chambers who holds a seat in Dublin West, the same constituency as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

His elevation to the frontbench and the appointment of Darragh O’Brien as spokesman on Housing, Planning, and Local Government undoubtedly adds a Dublin-centric slant to the party.