Wednesday 20 November 2019

Kenny must cause a stir with his first test -- a cabinet shake-up

MUCH of the reaction to the publication of the new government's programme has been lukewarm, sometimes hostile. Perhaps that bears some relation to Taoiseach-to-be Enda Kenny's assertion that "Paddy likes to know what the story is". Perhaps Paddy feels the document has not told the story.

To a great extent, that was inevitable. The new government cannot tell us how it will "fix" the public finances and the banking meltdown -- and much of the programme bears signs of compromises between Fine Gael and Labour, compromises that dilute the message.

But Mr Kenny nevertheless has to find a way to hit the ground running. The time for that is tomorrow, when the 31st Dail meets. The most obvious course, and almost certainly the best, is to inject excitement into the announcement of his cabinet appointments.

The plan to break up the Department of Finance and create a new Public Service Department is not new.

It was foreshadowed in an earlier Fine Gael document, drawing on the Swedish model -- though examples also exist in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere.

It now appears that we could have an "inner cabinet" composed of the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste, a Fine Gael finance minister and a Labour minister for public service reform.

If this works, it could provide the dynamic that the new administration, and the country, need so badly. Making us believe in it will be the new Taoiseach's first test.

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

Don't Miss