Thursday 14 December 2017

John Drennan: Lap of dishonour for Reilly as he wins race for top loser

Despite his austerity Budgets, Grandfather Noonan has escaped the wrath of the voters, writes John Drennan

John Drennan

John Drennan

Given the number of ministers vying to win the top of the flops award, you might think when it comes to the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll on the six of the worst ministers it would be hard for one cabinet grandee to pull clear of the rest.

But despite a selection box including such political delights as Alan Shatter and Pat Rabbitte – who is becoming an increasingly acquired taste for the more sensitive members of the public – poor James 'Bottler' Reilly has once again lapped the field.

It is a rating that will surely leave aspirant future Fine Gael leaders in short pants, such as Leo and Simon, shivering in their ministerial boy scout uniforms.

Both will certainly be doing their best to stay on the right side of 'Dear Leader' Enda if they don't want to end up in Health should 'Bottler' suffer a terribly big scrape.

Of course, the 'Dear Leader' himself is not faring too well with the public, coming in at second place in the top of the flops stakes at 12 per cent.

Mind you, given his current dissatisfaction rating of 66 per cent, Mr Kenny could have done worse.

Significantly, his result in today's poll is part of a pattern of rehabilitation from a high of 19 per cent in December 2012.

Another politician doing reasonably well in the political rehabilitation clinic is not so Cute Old Phil Hogan.

Though he wins the bronze medal, the ongoing furores over property tax mean that 8 per cent is no bad result for a politician who appears to be on the cusp of regaining his Cute Old persona.

Indeed, should the Environment Minister continue this roll from the nadir of May 2012, when he was seen to be the least-effective minister, Enda might decide to keep him in Ireland when the commissioner's job comes up in 2014.

Wouldn't that be a treat?

Speaking of future EU commissioners, Mr Gilmore will be relieved that he is in a relatively lowly fifth place on the Millward Brown ducking stool.

Mind you, when it comes to the Tanaiste, whose popularity ratings consistently track those of 'Biffo' in his pomp, one supposes the electorate can only throw so many eggs.

The Tanaiste's result may be influenced by the pattern where high-profile ministries such as the Taoiseach's office, Health and Social Protection – where Joan Burton, at 6 per cent, is above Mr Gilmore in the queue for the political ducking stool – attract more negative attention.

This pattern makes the achievement of Ireland's designated National Grandfather, Michael Noonan, all the more intriguing.

The Finance Minister may have introduced three hair-shirt Budgets, with the voters believing there are plenty more to come.

However, despite all that has gone before – and such delights as water charges, that are yet to come – Mr Noonan is at an astonishingly lowly 4 per cent.

Before the Finance Minister acquires any great enthusiasm for more austerity, the best explanation for his beloved status is that Noonan's National Grandfather-style persona has provided him with a better coat of Teflon than Bertie in his heyday.

Intriguingly, amid all of the damage our cabinet ministers who are experiencing the walk of shame are suffering, outside of Mr Noonan the other great escapee is the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who has escaped relatively unscathed from substantial social welfare cuts.

It would all leave mischievous minds to wonder just how much better might the Government be faring if, instead of Enda and the Invisible Tanaiste, the Coalition were led by a new odd couple of Michael and Joan.

As poor Dr Reilly, all one can wonder is how the unpopularity ratings will look after our poor bete noire of a 'Bottler' finally finishes that 'ekker' on his billion-euro worth of algorithms and logarithms.

Sunday Independent

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