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Nicola Anderson: Pat Carey is now like Superman, Spiderman and Iron Man rolled into one

PRESIDING over North/South Co-operation, developing off-shore islands, running the postal sector based on open-market principals, maximising the benefits to the State from exploration and production of indigenous oil and gas resources. Not to mention making sure that the 46A bus runs on time.

And on the seventh day, Pat Carey -- Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister and Transport Minister -- rests.

Or rather, no time for that -- Sunday's actually about the only day that he's free to hit the hustings in an effort to hang on to his seat.

Yes, no doubt about it, it's a busy time these days to be one of the seven members of the super-Cabinet in the ailing 30th Dail.

Omnipresent and omnipotent, Superman, Spiderman and Iron Man all rolled into one rather mild-looking package, no wonder Pat Carey, Minister for Community ... oh, forget it ... has rather wearily and grimly taken to calling himself "Minister for Etc"."

Not forgetting, naturally, that his own original post, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs had already seen some amalgamation, incorporating responsibility for social inclusion policy and family policy from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, and issues relating to equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice. Phew.

Yesterday, in a day already jam-packed with the leadership excitement and matters relating to the Finance Bill, this busy man had a hectic morning schedule, all events mercifully to do with his old job so he didn't have to go feverishly swatting up.

At 9am he was at the Carmelite Community Centre on Dublin's Aungier Street, for the launch of the election manifesto of The Wheel -- the national umbrella group representing 890 community and voluntary organisations.

Mr Carey arrived about 20 minutes early, telling organisers that he would be obliged to leave early due to the Finance Bill business. He wasn't the only Dail member receiving frantic text messages to ensure his swift arrival back at Leinster House.

Fine Gael's Frank Feighan, Labour's Jack Wall, Senator Dan Boyle of the Green Party and Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh were also there.

Mr Carey even shook Dan Boyle's hand. No hard feelings? Who knows.

Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel, told delegates she had asked Mr Carey how he would like to be introduced.

"He said he wanted to be introduced as Minister for Etc," she said, to roars of appreciative laughter.

On the dot of 10am, they all fled to Kildare Street to begin their Finance Bill discussions and on his way out the door, someone wished him luck.

"I'll need more than that," he replied grimly.

At 11am Mr Carey was back with his old Community Affairs hat on again for another election manifesto launch at Buswell's Hotel -- thankfully not too far of a schlep.

This time, it was the Family Support Network, helping families affected by drugs, and chairman Daithi Doolan told the packed assembly the drugs crisis was a core election issue.

The Minister for Etc reminded delegates of the lengthy waiting lists that once existed for those seeking drug treatment in some centres like Tullamore, Mullingar and Portlaoise -- with even one case of someone who had waited four years for treatment.

He was down for a third gig, at the Aviva Stadium for Boardmatch Ireland, which develops the management committees of voluntary organisations, but has to pull out owing to the small matter of electing a new party leader.

Busy days indeed -- but at least the countdown has already begun.

Irish Independent