Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All change or no change?

After several weeks of resignations and endless speculation about a mid-term Cabinet shake up, Brian Cowen yesterday announced the lamest reshuffle possible. In a way it should come as no surprise that he followed this course of action - any serious purge of deadwood would have been quickly followed by a heave against him and a May or June general election.

In terms of big cars, the shocker is putting Mary Coughlan in charge of Education. I had previously advocated moving her back to Agriculture or maybe Transport where she could cause minimal harm. But to make her responsible for the state of learning in the country is a very sick joke. The woman who thought Einstein had developed the theory of evolution should be kept as far away from learning as possible.

Mary Hanifan must really be wondering what she did in a previous life to deserve her treatment. To be initially bumped from Education to Social Welfare was bad but she did a good job of defending cut backs in allowances and changes to pensions. But now to be booted into the rejigged Tourism, Culture and Sport is pretty grim. You have to wonder with the reduction in the Dún Laoghaire constituency whether she will just pack up and go back to her teaching post in Sion Hill.

The other outrage, again involving a Mary, sees the Minister for Health stay exactly where she is. Eamon Gilmore took her to task in his speech on the reshuffle in the Dáil and I expect the heat to be turned up over the next few weeks. A motion of no confidence must be on the horizon and it will put some of the independents who are supporting the government in an awkward position if they have to vote in favour of her staying in post.

As for the Greens, their concept of rotating ministries seems to have been shelved with the senior positions staying as is. However, after campaigning hard on reducing the number of junior ministries from 18 to 15 as a token at cost saving, it is quite ironic to see them grab a second half car bumping the number back up to 16. With Ciarán Cuffe taking over Trevor Sargent's old job, Mary White gets herself the Equality and Human Rights role to occupy her time.

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