Monday 22 July 2019

When going gets tough it's time for a reshuffle

Garret FitzGerald. Photo: SNOWDON/CAMERA PRESS
Garret FitzGerald. Photo: SNOWDON/CAMERA PRESS
Charles Haughey
Bertie Ahern

Historically, reshuffles happen when there's trouble in paradise....

February 1986 Garret FitzGerald's big botch

Garret FitzGerald's Fine Gael-Labour coalition was woefully unpopular and grappling with a broken economy, high unemployment and emigration. He badly needed to give his government team a fresher, softer image with an election at most 20 months away. Delays were compounded by the flat refusal of Labour's Barry Desmond to move from the Health Department, fearing he would be made a political scapegoat for cutbacks. After a two-day stand-off the re-jigged Cabinet was presented to jeering, jubilant Fianna Fail opposition deputies. The only fig-leaf FitzGerald got was that Desmond ceded Social Welfare, which had up to then been twinned with Health. The Government was left looking more inept and the Coalition lost a General Election a year later.

November 1991 Charlie Haughey's humiliating about-turn

Charlie Haughey had defeated the fourth challenge to his leadership of Fianna Fail and sacked three senior ministers - Albert Reynolds, Padraig Flynn and Maire Geoghegan Quinn. On November 13, 1991, he moved to copper-fasten his position by unveiling a new cabinet team. But by 9pm that evening he was forced to withdraw the appointment of Donegal TD Jim McDaid as Defence Minister. McDaid had been photographed a year previously outside the Four Courts with an IRA suspect who had beaten an extradition attempt. Groundless opposition allegations about McDaid's suitability for this sensitive office and an ultimatum from FF's coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats, forced a Haughey climbdown. Three months later he was replaced as FF leader and Taoiseach by rival Albert Reynolds.

September 2004 Bertie Ahern discovers socialism

In June 2004 the second of Bertie Ahern's three Fianna Fail-dominated governments suffered a big local election reverse. After a summer of contemplation Ahern gathered his party in Inchidoney, West Cork, and invited anti-poverty campaigner Fr Sean Healy to address them. He then told journalists he was a 'socialist'. In late September 2004 he announced that Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy – the one with the most capitalist image – was headed to Brussels as EU Commissioner as part of Ahern's cabinet reshuffle. From then onwards he lavishly bribed taxpayers with their own money. The change of tack worked – largely because Ireland was in the midst of a false boom.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section