Friday 19 December 2014

Enda is facing pressure as major reshuffle looms

Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30

Many politicians agree that Enda Kenny needs to cover three issues in this Cabinet re-shuffle: women, youth, and Dublin
Many politicians agree that Enda Kenny needs to cover three issues in this Cabinet re-shuffle: women, youth, and Dublin

IT'S pick a theory week in this Leinster House posh game of snakes and ladders, with as many reshuffle schemes as there are people in the Dail and Seanad.

Down one corridor you will meet a TD or senator determined that "Reilly is gone from health and the Government", down another strolls someone of the polar opposite view; while on the stairwell you'll cross someone with ideas in between, essentially saying Reilly stays in Cabinet but moves from health.

But many politicians agree that Enda Kenny needs to cover three issues in this Cabinet reshuffle: women, youth, and Dublin.

The Taoiseach faces scarcity on all three of these personnel headings and has limited scope to get the necessary improvements to revive this flagging government. The Taoiseach will remember that when he started his long march as Fine Gael leader in June 2002 that his party had just three Dublin TDs. When he finally made it to Government Buildings in March 2011, he chose five Dublin appointees among the nine senior ministerial posts in his gift, and a further two Dublin TDs among the nine junior posts available to him.

There are 44 seats in Dublin city and county constituencies in the next Dail, which drops from 166 seats to 158. The Dublin Fine Gael vote is in serious need of care and attention and that means junior and senior ministers.

So far the only Dublin names cited are Paschal Donohoe from junior to senior ranks and the appointment of Mary Mitchell O'Connor as a junior minister. Political attrition has already claimed two Dublin deputies – Alan Shatter from the senior ranks and Lucinda Creighton from the junior ranks.

The scarcity of women is quite marked with just 11 females among the 76 FG TDs elected in 2011. Frances Fitzgerald is the only FG woman in Cabinet and there has been no woman in the junior ranks since Lucinda Creighton was forced out.

This strengthens the case for Mitchell O'Connor and also leads to speculation about Regina Doherty of Meath East; Heather Humphreys of Cavan Monaghan; and Aine Collins of Cork North West.

All these are newcomers and therefore not likely to make the first team.

Neither is there an abundance of youth.

At the Cabinet table, Leo Varadkar is the youngster at age 35; Simon Coveney has just turned 38; Paul Kehoe is a youthful 41.

The age profile of the junior ranks is not at first glance too encouraging, especially since the departure of Brian Hayes (44) for Europe.

In reality the Taoiseach would be better placing the emphasis on energy and enthusiasm, a quality Michael Ring has in spades and is also evident in Frank Feighan who has a strong case for a first time junior ministry.

Irish Independent

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