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'Cromwell Cabinet' an own goal right out of Leinster House bubble politics

Fionnán Sheahan


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New look: Members of the newly elected Cabinet of the 33rd Dáil meet for their first time in Dublin Castle. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

New look: Members of the newly elected Cabinet of the 33rd Dáil meet for their first time in Dublin Castle. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

PA

New look: Members of the newly elected Cabinet of the 33rd Dáil meet for their first time in Dublin Castle. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Political pop quiz: what's the difference between the 'half car' and the 'high chair'? And who sat in the 'high chairs' in the last government?

The anoraks and hacks will know the answers easily but the public at large will probably struggle. The 'half car' is a moniker for a junior minister or Minister of State, who used to get a civilian driver for their car as they had to travel about quite a bit on official business. The 'high chair' is the nickname for the junior minister who attends Cabinet meetings but isn't one of the 15 full Cabinet ministers. In the last government, these were Finian McGrath, Paul Kehoe and Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

The reality of the level of recognition of politicians in the public eye is often forgotten within the bubble of Leinster House, where every step and utterance is parsed and analysed. Only a handful are known by their first names: Micheál, Leo, Mary Lou, Paschal, Simon, Eamon.