Monday 22 December 2014

John Downing: The most fleeting of government honeymoons abruptly ended

Published 11/07/2014 | 14:31

1/5/2013; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D., and Joan Burton, T.D., Minister for Social Protection at the launch of an independent evaluation of the JobBridge Scheme which demonstrates the internship scheme is amongest the most successful in Europe. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Tanaiste Joan Burton and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Damien Eagers

THERE are a few “special” moments at Leinster House when – just momentarily – the political cudgels are put down.

These positive moments are very fleeting indeed – something which makes them all the more special.

The three to four minutes it takes 15 government ministers to march into the Dail chamber and take their seats is one of these. 

The “specialness” is a combination of curiosity in wanting to know if the speculation was correct – and the happiness in seeing a friend or colleague finally make it.

This afternoon in the Dail chamber there was special and prolonged applause for newcomers to the top government team – Heather Humphreys and Paschal Donohoe of Fine Gael and Jan O’Sullivan, Alex White and Alan Kelly of Labour.

As Enda Kenny’s newly-cast XV filed in behind him at 1.45 pm many deputies from all parties, and especially those sitting on both sides of the aisles, leaned across and shook hands with the newly-appointed ones. 

Labour’s Ged Nash from Co Louth – who will attend cabinet as a super-junior minister in charge of employment and business – got an especial welcome from all his party colleagues.

The ending of this “special” moment was signalled by the leader of the Opposition standing up to reply to the Taoiseach’s and Tanaiste’s speech.  Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin warmly congratulated all concerned and said some positive things, especially noting the family and friends of the newly-promoted TDs looking down from the visitors’ gallery.

With those gracious words safely out of the way, Martin fell to his task of castigating the Government teams old and new. "How often will Labour roll over in this government?" Martin was asking just minutes into his speech.

This most fleeting of government honeymoons abruptly ended. Normal parliamentary service was resumed.

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