Friday 23 February 2018

The hard road from critics and campaigners to defending tough decisions

Transport Minister Shane Ross Picture: Collins
Transport Minister Shane Ross Picture: Collins
John Downing

John Downing

It has been a very tough road to "grown-up" politics. It is easy to write about everything that is wrong. In government it's far tougher, slower, and very much harder to show results.

It's even harder again if you dub the person who will chair future Cabinet meetings "a political corpse".

Happily Shane Ross realises it was wrong to write that about Enda Kenny in his 'Sunday Independent' column as 70 days of government-making talks opened last year.

For many around Leinster House Mr Ross made a few more mistakes. He was perceived as being a sometimes Transport Minister often appearing more interested in other issues. But he did keep his nerve on non-intervention in the national bus strike.

Perhaps the most stable and reliable was Finian McGrath who decided relatively early on to try to achieve as much as possible as "super junior" minister responsible for disability issues. Similarly, Seán Canney applied himself with alacrity to the job of advancing flood relief in the Office of Public Works.

But Waterford's John Halligan had a series of should-I-stay or should-I-go crises before he too appeared to settle in.

Odd thing was, we did not have a Fine Gael-Independent Alliance Cabinet table arm-wrestle for quite a few months. Then, when they come with a message of stability, we get a new tussle. This time it is a call for more transparency on UN votes.

But let's not be too mean. One year on and they're still standing, or rather sitting around the Cabinet table.

Any fear of another year? Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

The real unknown is how they are playing in their own constituencies. The history of small groups in government is not encouraging electorally.

Irish Independent

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