Donegal's Joe McHugh became Ireland’s second ever minister for the diaspora when Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced junior ministries last week. McHugh, 44, succeeds Jimmy Deenihan, the first diaspora minister who lost his seat in the general election in February.
McHugh, who served as minister of state for the Gaeltacht in the last government, called his new appointment a “huge honor.”
According to his website, McHugh was a geography and maths teacher at Loreto Convent in Letterkenny from 1993-‘95 and taught A-level economics in Dubai in 1995-‘96. He worked as a community youth worker in Glenwood, Letterkenny from 1996-‘99.
McHugh became a Fine Gael public representative in June 1999 when he was elected to represent the Milford electoral area as a member of Donegal County Council where he proposed the establishment of Donegal Youth Council, which led to the first democratically-elected youth forum in Ireland. McHugh was also appointed as Chairperson of ERNACT (European Region Network for the Application of Communications Technology), where he placed emphasis on broadband provision in border areas.
He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2002 and served as Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Community, Rural, Gaeltacht and Marine Affairs from 2002-‘07. Kenny officially opened McHugh’s full-time constituency office in Letterkenny on 6th October 2006. He was selected by Fine Gael as the party’s Donegal North-East candidate for the 2007 general election.
McHugh took lessons in Gaelic and became a speaker in response to criticism about his knowledge of the language in his last ministerial post.