Wednesday 24 August 2016

Taoiseach rewards those who have stayed loyal to him while also sending message to dissenters

Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30

JOHN DEASY: The political naivety has been staggering
JOHN DEASY: The political naivety has been staggering

IT SEEMS apt that the letters 'K' and 'L' sit side by side in the alphabet – because Kenny has gone for loyalists in this re-shuffle of his second team.

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Or, put another way, it was also a message to those deemed less than loyal. Paudie Coffey of Waterford is in – his constituency colleague, John Deasy, remains very much outside.

The name of sometimes dissident Eoghan Murphy was mentioned here and there during the week. It was not mentioned by Enda Kenny yesterday.

Damien English has soldiered since 2002 with little sign of reward. But now he has made the team.

Joe McHugh has remained quietly on side since the failed June 2010 heave. But now he must further prove his loyalty by taking himself to the Gaeltacht to re-learn Irish.

The ever-steadfast Tom Hayes weathered the cull of the older politicians. Michael Ring got his long-standing wish to stay right where he was in transport, tourism and sport – the job in which he excels.

But beyond loyalty – the choices were not so easy to define. Kenny certainly did not emulate his counterpart across the water, David Cameron, who on Monday did a major clear-out of "middle-aged privileged men" and yesterday promoted a number of young men and women.

In fact Enda Kenny had the distinction of choosing not even one woman for any of the seven jobs he had to give away yesterday. Neither Regina Doherty nor Mary Mitchell O'Connor, both able and ambitious women, made the cut. It leaves just two women – Ministers Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphreys – out of a 19-member FG government team.

He was also a bit hit and miss on tending the Dublin patch which has 44 of the 158 TDs in the next Dail. Simon Harris of Wicklow, probably his most inspired choice as junior finance minister, is left to cover the southern flank of the capital.

Joan Burton's choices were well trailed and as expected Joe Costello was dropped from the team. Kathleen Lynch takes on an enhanced role in health, while Sean Sherlock takes over overseas development and north-south relations and Aodhan O Riordain takes responsibility for equality, new communities and culture.

Ann Phelan, who backed both Joan Burton and new deputy leader Alan Kelly, gets a new role of rural development with special mention of rural transport. Kevin Humphreys will undoubtedly be very influential at social protection given the range of responsibilities facing the minister, Joan Burton.

Labour's is a balanced team with a good blend of youth and experience. They only have to convince the public of the benefits that can bring to government – which will be easier said than done.

Irish Independent

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