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Gerry O'Carroll: Boot Boy Ahern and Cowen's ship of fools

Is there a more useless minister than Dermot Ahern?

I know he has a lot of competition for the title in this useless Government (Brian Lenihan apart).

But in all my experience as a detective, I can think of only two others who have been worse Justice ministers -- the arrogant Michael McDowell and the oily Padraig Flynn.

Funnily enough, Dermot Ahern was the guy sent in by Bertie Ahern to investigate corrupt Ray Burke. But when it comes strictly to his term of office as Justice Minister, Ray Burke, believe it or not, came across ten times better.

Ahern sniggered in the Dail at a most inappropriate time and gave the opposition all the ammunition they needed to tie a noose around Willie O'Dea's head.

Now, like his ineffective predecessor, Ahern is waging a war on the media.

This is the man who wants a privacy law, which would in effect only protect politicians and criminals. He's also the geezer who brought in the outlandish blasphemy law -- which is only ever likely to be used by Islamists and jihadists.

Nice one, Dermo. You're quite the legislator, aren't you? That's why the Boot Boy from Dundalk deserves to be the first to go in the forthcoming reshuffle.

Instead, Ahern is being spoken about as a contender for an economic ministry. God help us all! I like Mary Coughlan as a person but she's been totally ineffective in Enterprise and must move to another portfolio.

Then there's Mary Harney, a woman who has managed to cling on to the Health ministry, despite the fact that she doesn't even have a party.

It's all very well saying you want a job -- I'd love to have been Garda Commissioner but that's not to say I would have been any good.

Just because Harney is the only muggins who wants to stay in Health does not mean she should be allowed stay in the post.

Her tenure has been an unmitigated disaster.

When have you heard anyone with anything good to say about our hospitals or the HSE? Thought so. Harney's head should roll, too.

We should also expect to see Eamon O Cuiv in the departure lounge, an almost non-existent Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs. After all, what has been his biggest single achievement? He should be joined by Sports Minister Martin Cullen, a man whose credibility has been in tatters since the e-voting scandal.

But that's an easy choice for Cowen as an ill Cullen wants out anyway.

And it's high time the Minister for Snow, Noel Dempsey, was handed his P45. This is the man who blissfully absented himself during the Arctic spell and headed off to sunnier climes while the country ground to a halt for want of sand and salt to grit the roads.

Things are so bad that even Fianna Fail's National Executive member Jerry Beades has waded in and suggested the sacking of Minister Dempsey.


It's shocking to think that the only beacon of hope in the cabinet is Brian Lenihan, a man who is also busy tackling a life-threatening illness.

He has stayed at the helm and showed courage with the bank guarantee scheme and the introduction of NAMA.

He's the only minister who the public really trust, whether they like him or not.

But do you know what? Cowen won't make any of these changes because he doesn't have the strength to do so.

And with the Greens imploding and Fianna Fail in the wilderness, you would have to bet that the Government can't last much longer.

To that I'd say good riddance.

Oh, but now what do we do about Enda?

Sean's death must not be in vain ... end evil of knives

I was moved to tears last week by the words of Charlotte Nolan, the heartbroken mother who lost her 18-year-old son Sean in a stabbing incident in 2007.

She and her husband bravely returned to court as the Court of Criminal Appeal considered the sentence of her son's killer Finn Colclough.

She watched as his 10-year sentence for manslaughter was reduced, with the final two years suspended.

Afterwards, she spoke emotionally of the epidemic of knife crime in this country.

It was incredibly moving, and her bravery in speaking out must be commended.

With time off for 'good behaviour', Colclough will probably be walking free in three years. It is this sort of leniency that led to the impassioned plea of Sean Nolan's distraught mother.

Judge Barry White has commented that human life has become devalued because of the increasing scourge of knife crime. He said there was a need for a serious deterrent from the courts. His words must be heeded.

We in the Herald have played our part with the Bin The Blade campaign. As a result, we have stricter penalties for people convicted of carrying knives.

However, it is cold comfort. The Government has yet to respond to calls for a campaign to highlight the evils of knife culture. We have called for a multi-agency campaign, involving welfare services, the gardai, courts, youth services, education and the media.

This appeal cannot fall on deaf ears any longer. It's time that we were assured that people like Sean Nolan have not died in vain because this country urgently needs a swift change in laws and attitudes.

Fair play to you, Eamon -- those cheeky photos prove you're never too old to party

He's never too far from the spotlight and I must say it lifted my spirits to see photographs of that old party animal Eamon Dunphy enjoying a night on the town.

There are people who might say that at the age of 64 he should be at home in his dressing gown and slippers with a cup of Horlicks in his hand. But Eamon has proved that he's never too old to party, living it up in top nightclub Krystle and happily posing for playful photographs with his legion of fans.

I take my hat off to this bon viveur, a man with twice the energy of men half his age. When I saw the pictures, I recalled the words of the great troubadour Ronnie Drew who said: "There's life in the old dog yet."

Obviously Eamon is not yet ready to bow to the tyranny of Old Father Time. Fair play to you, Mr Dunphy, you're truly flying the flag for old timers like myself.