Monday 19 November 2018

Dumped junior minister: we're lacking leaders in Government

Michael Brennan

DUMPED former Junior Minister John McGuinness went on the warpath yesterday after he declared there was a lack of political leadership "in every single government department".

He also launched a stinging attack on his former Enterprise Department for "not listening to business", criticised the staff there who did not "measure up", and claimed the Government had made "no progress" on public sector reform.

Mr McGuinness was speaking just 24 hours after he had been sacked as Junior Minister for Trade and Commerce by Taoiseach Brian Cowen

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD reserved his strongest comments for the senior government ministers who head up the 15 departments.

"Every single one of us in this house needs to give political leadership and there is a lack of that at the moment in regards to every single government department. What we need is radical change," he said.

Mr McGuinness admitted he had different views at times to Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, which has been cited as a possible reason for his dismissal.

"Mary has her views on things and I had mine. I was willing to press them and ask for change," he said.

And when asked if business people had confidence in Ms Coughlan, Mr McGuinness simply replied that they had "confidence in themselves".

He said he had brought in outside experts, such as economist and Irish Independent columnist David McWilliams, to the department to introduce fresh thinking.

"I believe the solution is not solely within the tribe of Fianna Fail," he said.

Several backbenchers who met Mr McGuinness in Leinster House yesterday described him as being extremely disappointed and sore over his surprise demotion.

Although he has said he accepts Mr Cowen's decision, his outspoken views could prove problematic for the Government in the months ahead.


Mr McGuinness was strongly critical of the Department of Enterprise where he has been replaced by Junior Minister Billy Kelleher.

He said that the staff at the department did not "measure up, quite frankly" and could be "far more enterprising".

"We could be far more efficient in terms of how we do business and we should listen to the business sector. They are simply not being listened to by the department, or by the Government to some extent," he told RTE's News at One.

Mr McGuinness's outspoken nature had been cited as another reason for his dismissal, after he had called for job cuts among the "featherless but still plump State hens" in the civil service.

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