As the first hints of a reshuffle emerge we are sure Monsieur le Grand President of Europe, Enda Kenny, will be delighted with the help provided by today's Millward Brown opinion poll on the public's views about which ministers have been effective and ineffective.
Sadly for Monsieur Le Petit President of Europe, the news is not all good, because when it comes to the public's perception of those who have been effective in the job, Eamon Gilmore lags some way behind his deputy leader Joan Burton who, at 13 per cent is, with Enda, seen as being the most effective politician in the State.
Many, particularly within Labour will look at that particular combination and say "don't they make a lovely couple?" Sadly, we suspect, that the Blueshirt ranks would not be quite so enthusiastic.
So when it comes to the somewhat tortured ranks of the Coalition who do you think, in terms of efficiency, have been the good, the bad or the merely mediocre ministers?
THE GOOD – SIX OF THE BEST
The Taoiseach is still top of the pile and has even managed to retrieve some popularity since a serious slump in his poll ratings last May where only 9 per cent of the public were impressed. That particular low may have been influenced by the divisiveness of the Fiscal Compact referendum but since then the Taoiseach's folksy style has sparked some sort of minor revival. It is, however, as his upward trend on the naughty side of the Millward Brown poll indicates, definitely a mini rather than a total recovery.
The Grumpy Old Men in Labour will undoubtedly be delighted to see Joan polling so highly in terms of effectiveness. Sadly that is about as good as it gets on that particular front for Labour given that their 'Dear Leader' is on a miserly 3 per cent. Still we are sure the backbenchers will be delighted to see that Ms Burton, despite having the most dangerous ministry outside of Health, is being viewed so positively.
Unsurprisingly the Finance Minister makes up the third member of the Government's main strike force in terms of maintaining the respect of the public. Some in Leinster House may be tiring a little of the Finance Minister's aphorisms. But, these figures suggest that in the outside world the minister's status as the nation's favourite comfort blanket is as strong as ever.
What is it about Dublin West that breeds such well regarded ministers? In the case of Leo Varadkar the main explanation for his rise from an initial lowly 6 per cent in last May's poll to the current heights of 11 per cent is that the voters want straight-talking political enforcers. The good news for Leo is that if he keeps rising in public esteem he'll be a shoo-in to replace James Reilly in Health should a terribly big accident happen to Enda's bearded, chinless wonder.
Our cabinet equivalent of the squeezed middle consists of this very different ministerial troika. The status of Ruairi Quinn, despite the running wound of third-level fees is undoubtedly informed by the honest competence he has brought to his ministry.
The electorate's perception that Frances and Simon possess similar attributes undoubtedly facilitated their arrival at the top table. In the wake of the occasionally turbulent passing of the children's referendum and the current placid state of our eternally disgruntled farmers, whatever the reasons behind the success of Simon the Good and Frances the Faithful are, both will be contenders, for very different reasons, should anything be going in Health.
THE BAD – THOSE WHO YOU THINK SHOULD BE GIVEN SIX OF THE BEST
He was never exactly the loved child of the Coalition, but the unprecedented decisiveness of the public rebuff in the wake of his blundering over primary care centres, the ongoing accusations of cronyism and the uncertain handling of the Savita case means that the minister is now a Biffo-style public and political liability. Enda is going to be watching James.
The ongoing decline in support for Enda Kenny is now becoming a significant political issue. Mr Kenny may have topped the rankings in the A stream of the Cabinet but the ongoing increase in those who think Mr Kenny is performing badly from 11 per cent last May to 19 per cent today means that for a significant proportion of the electorate Enda is not doing the job. Such a belief may go a long way towards explaining why in recent polls Fine Gael's support has started to drop below the critical 30 per cent waterline that makes the difference between returning to government easily and having to fight for it.
The nature of the cuts Ms Burton has had to make means it is a minor miracle that she is only at 9% for those who think she is one of the ministerial non-performers. Significantly, despite the furore over child benefit the Social Protection Minister's negative rating has remained relatively unchanged from the 6 per cent recorded last May.
It suggests that while she is in the wrong place here, Burton must be doing something right.
We were going to say the decline in not-so-Cute Old Phil's negative rating from 15 per cent to 8 per cent was another example of the wisdom that informs Bertie's patented style of lying low in troubled times.
That, however, hasn't really been the case with our hero in recent weeks. In truth when it comes to his recovery, the minister who only received a positive reference from 2 per cent of the poll's respondents has been saved by the kindness of the Finance Minister in taking the housing tax chalice out of Phil's jittery hands.
The Tanaiste is somewhat unfortunate to be in these territories for 7 per cent is not the worst showing in the world.
But he does seem to be increasingly unfortunate these days and it is a trait he would be wise, if he has a choice in the matter, to lose quickly. And in truth Mr Gilmore's difficulties lie more in the fact that so few people have any opinion about him at all as distinct from those who have a negative one.
The miracle here is that the Finance Minister who has brought in two of the most vicious budgets in the history of the State is lying so low in the non-effectiveness stakes. Mind you, should he fail to bring home the bacon from Europe next year Limerick's new Mr Big may struggle to retain his current sanguine state.
THOSE ABSENT FROM THE TABLE
Both Richard Bruton and Pat Rabbitte might have expected to be amidst the ranks of the more effective ministers. However, at 6 per cent, both are honorary members of the squeezed middle and if Enda ever lets Richard make a jobs announcement the little fellow might make the great leap.
Perhaps the most surprising habitue of this sub-section, given the high profile accorded to the Croke Park Agreement and public sector reform, is Brendan Howlin who scores a humble 2 per cent in each category.
Many, including Mr Howlin, will be unsure as to whether his relative invisibility is a good or a bad thing.
Others, with the exception of the minister in question, will not be surprised by the absence of Justice Minister Alan Shatter from the list of effective ministers.
Sadly, it is just another example of how empty vessels making a lot of noise do not attract the esteem of the public.