Saturday 25 February 2017

Noonan's credibility will be crucial for Fine Gael

John Downing

John Downing

Noonan’s last big electoral role ended in calamity
Noonan’s last big electoral role ended in calamity

The photographic display of Ireland's Finance Ministers in the department's Merrion Street HQ offers a major slice of history. Their ordering may also tell us something about our future.

I'm talking about the spacious ground floor room, in those well-appointed offices, close to Government Buildings in Dublin, where the minister of the day frequently meets with visitors. You can start with Eoin Mac Neill, the great Celtic scholar from Co Antrim, who headed the almost fictional Finance Department of the First Dáil in January 1919. And then the eye easily moves clockwise, taking in the photographs of those stolid men - not a woman among them - who have dutifully minded the national coffers ever since then.

Perhaps appropriately, in the corner, is the unmistakably bold countenance of one Charles J Haughey, who held the office from 1966 until 1970, when he was sacked amid the Arms Trial controversy. People of a certain age may remember those black and white television images in November 1967, when Haughey announced that Ireland had no option but to follow Britain's devaluation of the pound. If not, try an online search to see CJH explain Ireland's no-choice position in monetary union with our bigger neighbours.

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