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Joe McHugh

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Preceded by  Dinny McGinley
Political party  Fine Gael
Spouse  Olwyn Enright (m. 2005)
Nationality  Irish
Role  Teachta Dala

Name  Joe McHugh
Constituency  Donegal North–East
Children  2
Party  Fine Gael
Joe McHugh finegaelardfheis20063390x285jpg

Born  16 July 1971 (age 44) Carrigart, County Donegal (1971-07-16)
Office  Member of Dail Eireann since 2007
Education  Maynooth University, St Patrick's College, Maynooth
Similar People  Olwyn Enright, Dinny McGinley, Heather Humphreys, Enda Kenny

Constituency  Administrative Panel

An taire joe mchugh tg4

Joseph McHugh (born 16 July 1971) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as Government Chief Whip and Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands since June 2017. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 2007, currently for the Donegal constituency. He previously served as Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development from 2016 to 2017 and Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources from 2014 to 2016. He served as a Senator for the Administrative Panel from 2002 and 2007.


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Early life

Joe McHugh Gaeltacht minister on getting to grips with Irish language

Born in Carrigart, County Donegal, McHugh was educated at Umlagh National School and the Loreto Convent, Milford. He attended the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where he received an honours degree in economics and sociology, and a higher diploma in education. A keen sportsman, McHugh has been a member of the Carrigart Boxing Club, has played soccer in the Donegal League with Cranford F.C. and Bonagee United F.C., and has also been a Gaelic footballer. McHugh taught geography and mathematics at the Loreto Convent Secondary School, Letterkenny from 1993 to 1995. From 1995–96 he taught A-level economics in Dubai, during which time he helped establish the first GAA club in the United Arab Emirates. In 1996, he returned to Ireland and became a youth worker in the Ballyboe area of Letterkenny.

Donegal County Council

Selected by Fine Gael to run for a Donegal County Council seat in the Milford Electoral area, McHugh was elected on 11 June 1999. In 2001, he introduced a motion to establish a youth council for the county, which led to the formation of the Donegal Youth Council, the first democratically elected youth forum in Ireland. He also worked closely with Young Fine Gael, helping to establish the first branch in the county in March 2004. While a member of the council, he was appointed chairman of the cross-border body ERNACT (European Region Network for the Application of Communications Technology), where he made the provision of broadband in border areas a priority.

Seanad Éireann

He was elected to Seanad Éireann by the Administrative Panel in 2002, where he served as spokesperson on Community, Rural, Gaeltacht and Marine Affairs. McHugh set up a full-time constituency office in Letterkenny. When Fine Gael chose him as its Donegal North-East candidate for the Dáil, he moved into a new constituency office, which was officially opened by Fine Gael party leader Enda Kenny on 6 October 2006.

Dáil Éireann

After a surprise poll-topping victory in Donegal North-East, where he captured 22.6 percent of the first preference vote, McHugh was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 2007 general election. His wife Olwyn Enright also won re-election to the Dáil, making them the third married couple to be elected to sit in the same Dáil. McHugh was appointed party deputy spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for North-South Co-operation in October 2007. McHugh was re-elected to the Dáil at the 2011 general election, attaining 19.3% of the first-preference vote.

In January 2011, McHugh called for a monument, funded by the government, in Donegal, dedicated to the founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1912. McHugh was criticised by Eileen Doherty, a sister of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton, who was assassinated by loyalists in 1991. Doherty claimed McHugh and other Fine Gael councillors in Donegal had snubbed a number of commemorative events and opposed the building of a monument in Fullerton's memory in Buncrana. Fullerton was the third elected official in the Republic of Ireland to be assassinated.

In Manchester in October 2011, McHugh became the first Fine Gael TD to address delegates from the British Conservative Party. He described it as an "opportunity."

On 15 July 2014, he was appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources at the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. His appointment was met with criticism as his knowledge of the Irish language was at a basic level, although he subsequently received praise for his efforts to improve his language skills to the point where he could conduct lengthy interviews in the language. RTÉ Radio 1 created the radio documentary Fine Gaeilgeoir, narrated and produced by Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, following McHugh's efforts to improve his Irish over the course of a year. The appointment of a non-Irish speaker to a Gaeltacht ministry has since become known as a "Joe McHugh moment", with Shane Ross having written of as having his own in May 2016.

In February 2016, McHugh was heavily criticised for allocating 93 percent of Gaeltacht grants to the Donegal Gaeltacht, which is located in and beside his constituency. This revelation led to calls for McHugh to appear before the Public Account's Committee of Dáil Éireann, in order to explain such a disproportionate allocation of funding.

McHugh denied the claims,

At the 2016 general election, after a redrawing of constituency boundaries, McHugh was elected to the new five-seater Donegal constituency on the 11th count.

The following May, he met Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during their day visit to the county.

The couple's visit to Glenveagh National Park during the trip is accredited with driving up visitor numbers to record levels in 2017.

Personal life

In July 2005, McHugh married Olwyn Enright, who served as a Fine Gael TD for Laois–Offaly from 2002 to 2011. They have two children.


Joe McHugh Wikipedia