Minister has tripped up several times
Social Welfare Minister Eamon O Cuiv's gaffe yesterday will again cause nervousness among his Fianna Fail colleagues.
Since taking over as Social Protection Minister in the cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, Mr O Cuiv has tripped over himself a number of times.
On his first day of questions from the opposition as minister, he was savaged by the Labour Party's Roisin Shortall and Fine Gael's Olwyn Enright.
He then flew a kite on pension cuts, by suggesting this might be a target for the forthcoming Budget, before backpedalling on the issue. He also dropped the ball on a relatively straightforward announcement, regarding the lone parents' allowance.
"The bill provides for a number of measures including changes to the One-Parent Family Payment to reduce, from April 2011, the qualifying age for receipt of the payment to when the youngest child reaches the age of 13," he said in the Dail. The lack of plain English caused confusion.
Mr Cowen's masterplan to shift the debate on the economic recovery with a major speech the following morning was overshadowed by the furore over the changes to welfare benefits. The Taoiseach ended up spending valuable airtime on news bulletins explaining how the reforms would work and the rationale behind the changes.