Sunday 4 December 2016

It's business as usual in the boys' club, ladies

Tuesday's reshuffle 
made Fine Gael look like the Irish Catholic 
Bishops' Conference

Published 20/07/2014 | 02:30

SISTER ACT: Pictured last year, Fine Gael’s Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy TD, Aine Collins TD, Catherine Byrne TD, Michelle Mulherin TD, Imelda Henry TD, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality; Deirdre Clune MEP, Olivia Mitchell TD, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames (who is now with the Reform Alliance), Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Senator Cait Keane
SISTER ACT: Pictured last year, Fine Gael’s Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy TD, Aine Collins TD, Catherine Byrne TD, Michelle Mulherin TD, Imelda Henry TD, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality; Deirdre Clune MEP, Olivia Mitchell TD, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames (who is now with the Reform Alliance), Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Senator Cait Keane

Tuesday was a tale of two very different reshuffles. In the UK, David Cameron's official Twitter account grinded out job announcements all day. Ten of his new ministers were women. Some of them were even young enough to join Kim Kardashian's butt and the cast of TOWIE on the Daily Mail website. It was billed as the end of the grey old men. Armed with loads of 'Big Data' on voters and their concerns, Cameron retooled his cabinet for the upcoming UK elections.

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He won fans among half the voters by appointing lots of women, and he went some way to neutralising his greatest threat, UKIP, by appointing plenty of Eurosceptics, even causing some concerns that the looney wing of the Tory party was in the ascendant. He even showed a willingness to get rid of pals and close allies like Michael Gove. It was a modern, politically shrewd reshuffle and the first move in a general election campaign that would learn from the lessons of the recent European elections, where the established parties had been blindsided by a previously fringe nationalist party.

We had a reshuffle in Ireland too on Tuesday. More accurately, the second half of a reshuffle. Enda Kenny had intervened minimally and surgically enough in part one of his reshuffle. He had managed to surprise everyone by hanging on to old pals like James Reilly, who was perceived to have had a disastrous tenure in Health, and Jimmy Deenihan, who was apparently spared the axe after the intervention of Michael Noonan, and given a job dining for Ireland to spare his blushes and keep him in the tent.

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