Where is everyone? Mary keeps up appearances as ministers holiday
WHEN Mary Hanafin was demoted to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport it seemed she would have far fewer days in the political limelight. But instead this week she has found herself as the public face of the Government, facing a raft of engagements and TV cameras on a daily basis.
'Hurricane Hanafin' accounted for half the official government engagements yesterday, as she continued to make herself highly visible across the country while the rest of her Cabinet colleagues retreat for the month of August and the Dail is in recess.
In summers gone by, former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea -- who resigned in February -- was the de facto government spokesman, as he chose to remain in his native Limerick and on call.
Yesterday, the Minister for Fun Ms Hanafin continued her marathon run of visits around the country by fulfilling two different functions in Cork -- one in Ringaskiddy and the second in Skibbereen in West Cork.
The hectic schedule -- and energetic defence of the FF-Green Coalition -- is all the more marked given that there was widespread political surprise earlier this year when she was moved from the Department of Social Welfare to the Tourism, Culture and Sport portfolio.
Many regarded the switch as an effective demotion, though Ireland's key tourism sector has since proved a ready platform for a hard-working Ms Hanafin to extol economic recovery.
The minister, who is not politically close to Taoiseach Brian Cowen, has been soaking up media coverage as Mr Cowen holidays in Galway.
Last week, Ms Hanafin took a tough stance on the ongoing saga surrounding Senator Ivor Callely, claiming it was an "embarrassment" to the Fianna Fail party.
In Cork, Ms Hanafin yesterday staunchly defended the Government's position on the banks and mortgage interest rates to the local media -- and even found time to praise those who have supported the domestic tourism sector this year.
The Dun Laoghaire TD is listed to attend a major function in her home constituency tomorrow. She then has to fly to Scotland for two major events on Friday -- one a meeting with her Scottish counterpart at St Andrew's and the other an official role at the formal opening concert at the Edinburgh International Festival.
On Saturday, she has two further official functions in Edinburgh -- both aimed at promoting Irish arts and cultural links with Scotland and the UK.