Saturday 25 November 2017

Sorry, Mr O Cuiv, but it's the same faces in Cabinet

The 13th year club: Cabinet since 1997 The second-termers: Cabinet since 2002 Inchydoney period: Cabinet since 2004 The third phasers: Cabinet since 2007 The Cowen crew: Cabinet since 2008 Fionnan Sheahan

CONTRARY to Eamon O Cuiv's claims that the faces are constantly changing around the cabinet table, a full third of the ministers have been there for almost 13 years.

Another six ministers have served since 2002 and 2004. The remaining four have been in Cabinet since the 2007 general election.

Yet when Mr O Cuiv was asked whether he and other longer-serving ministers should make way for newer talent, he replied: "Well, the reality is that about half the Cabinet are there since 2002, the other half are fresh in.

"There's been constant change in my time in Cabinet. I'd expect that to continue. It's the Taoiseach's decision who he thinks should be a player on the team and what position they should play."

Mr O Cuiv is the only minister to have stayed in the same portfolio for more than seven years.

Brian Cowen: Started in Cabinet under Albert Reynolds. In 1997, he was in Health for a less-than contented period, before moving to Foreign Affairs for the post-Good Friday Agreement phase of the peace process. Then he got Finance before winding up in the Taoiseach's office.

Noel Dempsey: Started out in Environment, before going to Education, where he failed to bring back third-level fees, then Communications and now at Transport.

Dermot Ahern: Began at Social Welfare, moved to Communications, where he showed a fair degree of application. Went to Foreign Affairs and is now in Justice, where he is happiest.

Micheal Martin: A harmonious start in Education was followed by contentious years in Health, where he introduced the smoking ban, then got out and into Enterprise, before getting Foreign Affairs.

Mary Harney: Became Europe's most successful employment minister during seven years in Enterprise, before a surprise move to Health.

Mary Coughlan: Period in Social Welfare marred by the 'savage 16' cuts, but her subsequent term in Agriculture was well-regarded. Bumped rapidly up the Government ladder by Cowen with Enterprise and Tanaiste positions.

Eamon O Cuiv: Put into the newly created Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and is there ever since.

Martin Cullen: Embattled period in Environment, where he is best-remembered for the e-voting fiasco; had a far more satisfying time in Transport; briefly in Social Welfare and winding down in Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Mary Hanafin: Started out extremely well in Education, but this soured with special needs disputes; moved to Social Welfare, which looked dull until the unemployment crisis.

Willie O'Dea: Finally got off the starting blocks in Defence, but never went further; now gone.

John Gormley: Took over as Green Party leader when Trevor Sargent stood down on going into government with Fianna Fail. Got the coveted Environment portfolio as a result.

Eamon Ryan: The second Green minister went into Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, allowing him to emphasise his party's core policy areas.

Batt O'Keeffe: Long-time ally of Cowen, finally got to Cabinet on the change of Taoiseach, when he was put into Education, which he took to with fervour.

Brendan Smith: Slowly made his way up to finally get a full cabinet post in Agriculture, where he has been low-key but effective.

Pat Carey: While not taking on ministerial responsibility, the Chief Whip will undoubtedly be in the shake-up in the next cabinet reshuffle.

Irish Independent

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