TDs angered at lost opportunity to shake up junior ministries
RANK-and-file Fianna Fail TDs last night expressed disappointment with the lack of new blood brought forward to the junior ministries as part of Taoiseach Brian Cowen's reshuffle.
Although there was mixed reaction to the Green Party securing two junior ministries, most TDs felt yesterday was a wasted chance to shake up the ranks of second-tier ministers.
There was some anger that Mr Cowen had mostly ignored his own TDs and only promoted one of them to a junior ministerial position.
Green TD Ciaran Cuffe takes over Trevor Sargent's horticulture brief and also takes in transport and the environment, as well as sustainable transport and integrating planning and transport. Mary White will take the equality and integration position in Pat Carey's Community, Equality and Gaeltacht department.
Fianna Fail Wexford TD Sean Connick steps into the fisheries, forestry and the marine portfolio vacated by Tony Killeen, even though some backbenchers noted he had strong business experience and would have been better suited elsewhere. Mr Cowen passed over younger Fianna Fail TDs such as Darragh O'Brien, Thomas Byrne and Michael McGrath, whose names had been mentioned as potential junior ministers.
"The whole thing needed a shake-up," one TD said. "This was the last throw of the dice before the general election and it has been wasted."
Another claimed: "There should have been a shake-up across the board. John McGuinness, for example, could have led public sector reform. He would have been ideal for the position."
Others said there were numerous TDs with business experience who had been left on the backbenches since 1997.
Outspoken TD Mattie McGrath said not enough backbenchers were promoted -- and claimed the Taoiseach had given the Green Party too much.
"I don't understand why Mary Harney and Noel Dempsey are still there," he said.
"Some of the current crop have been there too long. Several people from the backbenches could have been brought on. There were minimal changes, there are lots of people who could have had new ideas."
One rural TD said: "If this is the team leading us into the next election, God knows what will happen."