Self-aware Humphreys ready to do the business

Irish Examiner - - News - Daniel McCon­nell

The move of Heather Humphreys to the Depart­ment of Business and En­ter­prise was not un­ex­pected, given her con­stituency’s bor­der prox­im­ity in the light of Brexit.

Ms Humphreys, 54, was born in the vil­lage of Drum, Co Mon­aghan, into the Pres­by­te­rian faith. Her fam­ily is steeped in the Or­ange Or­der, with her grand­fa­ther Robert James Ste­wart sign­ing the Ul­ster Covenant op­pos­ing Home Rule in 1912.

Ms Humphreys was ed­u­cated at St Ai­dan’s Com­pre­hen­sive School in Coote­hill, Co Ca­van, be­fore at­tend­ing NUI Gal­way. She worked in var­i­ous branches of Ul­ster Bank be­fore be­ing ap­pointed man­ager of Coote­hill Credit Union.

Ac­cord­ing to her bi­og­ra­phy: “Heather has be­ing play­ing the pi­ano since she was six. Her first job was in But­lins in Mos­ney (not as a red coat, but as a wait­ress).”

She and her hus­band Eric have two chil­dren and live on a farm. She was co-opted onto Mon­aghan County Coun­cil in suc­ces­sion to Sey­mour Craw­ford, fol­low­ing the end­ing of the dual man­date in 2003.

Elected in her own right in 2004 and again in 2009, Ms Humphreys was elected to the Dáil for the Ca­van-Mon­aghan con­stituency in 2011, as part of Fine Gael record­break­ing per­for­mance.

She is the only Pres­by­te­rian mem­ber of the Oireach­tas and was a sur­prise in­clu­sion in Enda Kenny’s reshuf­fle in 2014 when she was ap­pointed min­is­ter for arts, her­itage and the gaeltacht.

She im­me­di­ately be­came em­broiled in con­tro­versy, though, when Fine Gael nom­i­nee John McNulty was ap­pointed to the board of the Ir­ish Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in ad­vance of a Seanad by­elec­tion he was con­test­ing for Fine Gael. He later re­signed and with­drew from the by­elec­tion. The af­fair led many to ques­tion her ap­point­ment, but she has grown into min­is­te­rial life and over­saw the suc­cess­ful cen­te­nary commemorat­ion of the 1916 Ris­ing.

While not a nat­u­ral me­dia per­former, she is self-aware of her lim­i­ta­tions and plays to her strengths.

Her pop­u­lar­ity within Fine Gael is con­sid­er­able and her move to the Depart­ment of Business earned a broad wel­come yes­ter­day.

She aligned her­self with Leo Varad­kar early on in the lead­er­ship cam­paign and her po­si­tion in Cab­i­net was never in threat. There was some talk she was in the run­ning to be made Tá­naiste.

Heather Humphreys: Move to Depart­ment of Business and En­ter­prise broadly wel­comed.

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