Cowen shuffles his increasingly limited cabinet…

Brian Cowen has announced his cabinet reshuffle. Big news is that the Tainiste Mary Coughlan leaves Enterprise as expected, but moves to Education. Eamonn O’Cuiv finally, after many years, gets to leave the Gaeltacht. And the two Green Ministers stay as they were… More on RTE News…

Brian Cowen – Taoiseach

Mary Coughlan – Tánaiste, Minister for Education and Science
(Previously Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment)

Brian Lenihan – Minister for Finance

Tony Killeen – Minister for Defence – Nominated
(Previously Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Mary Harney – Minister for Health

Noel Dempsey – Minister for Transport

Dermot Ahern – Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Micheál Martin – Minister for Foreign Affairs

Pat Carey – Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs – Nominated
(Previously Chief Whip)

Éamon Ó Cuív – Minister for Social and Family Affairs
(Previously Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

Mary Hanafin – Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism
(Previously Minister for Social and Family Affairs)

John Gormley – Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Eamon Ryan – Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Brendan Smith – Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Batt O’Keeffe – Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
(Previously Minister for Education and Science)

,

  • There can be little doubt that what the Plain People of the Southern Irish territories would prefer is a government of National (Northern Irish Terriroties not included in this use of the word) Unity to ensure that those in power are not simply seeking to minimise damage to their own electoral prospects but rather trying to dig the country out of the rather deep whole it has now found itself in.

    Protocol warning: Please adjust your mindset
    For those of a particulalry tribal and/or sensitive disposition and those unable to judge an arguement on it’s merits please be aware that the term Unionist in my name is not an accurate reflection of my political views though it should be noted that my paternal grandfather was a keen supporter of the Union and I am invoking the FIFA grandparent rule and am opting to call myself so. (I’m sure he would have approved.)

  • Now, somebody help an old man:

    Exactly why does Mary Harney have such a lasting grip (even from temporary exile in New Zealand) on the Health portfolio? It surely cannot be that nobody else wants such a crock, yes?

  • Seosamh913

    Truly a government of none of the talents.

  • MR,

    Yes I think it is something of a poisoined chalice but one which she, as a former PD is probably best equipped to ideologically navigate and endure during times of increasing cuts – like her or loathe her and I’m no fan but that lady has got big balls and skin that even thicker than the gobsheens that elected the current shower of un-cute-hoors.

    Protocol warning: Please adjust your mindset
    For those of a particulalry tribal and/or sensitive disposition and those unable to judge an arguement on it’s merits please be aware that the term Unionist in my name is not an accurate reflection of my political views though it should be noted that my paternal grandfather was a keen supporter of the Union and I am invoking the FIFA grandparent rule and am opting to call myself so. (I’m sure he would have approved.)

  • DerTer

    Odd move of Mary Coughlan to Education – seems like the demotion that had been predicted in some quarters. However, Batt O’Keeffe was plainly due some recognition for having done a good job. Also clearly viewable as a demotion – and this time a really surprising one – is the competent Mary Hanafin’s move to Arts, S & T. The other O’Keeffe (Éamon Ó Cuív) move, to the important Social & FA brief, is also a surprise as he was one of those being seen as a possible casualty.
    I’ve just listened to the IT’s Stephen Collins, and I’me glad to say that he generally concurs with me! But in any case the political impact of these moves is likely to be negligible.

  • PJM

    Thoroughly dull reshuffle that will just reinforce the sense the Cowen is afraid to drop his friends. I think Hanafin will win some sympathy among the public and FF. It could help her in a future leadership bid as she is insulated from blame for the government’s performance.

    O Cuiv may surprise the chattering classes. He has some odd views but he is a competent politician.

    I think Cowen was probably right not to go for a radical shake up of the ministries themselves. Department of Economic Planning sounds great it was a disaster in 1977 and would take time and change management to get up and running. For all its flaws Finance can give a clear lead.

    Less convinced about the public service reform element which now seems even muddier with a new Junior at DT and the responsibility shared with Finance.

    Coughlin has shown no sign of the vision or negotiating skill needed for education; the system is in real trouble and needs good leadership.

  • Mack

    Malcom Redfellow –

    It surely cannot be that nobody else wants such a crock, yes?

    I’d say that is exactly it. I’m not sure if the government have a transformative vision for health (or even if the PD’s did, really). So who would want that job?

    Fine Gael and Labour both seem to have a vision for health, albeit two separate and mutually incompatible visions (private hospitals, public health insurance in the case of FG and socialised health NHS style in the case of Labour). So should they come to power… No change, I’d guess..

  • PJM

    Labour policy is not NHS style at all. They favour a universal health insurance – and have done for over a decade – which is compatible with the FG view. They have more disagreements on the public-private split. PDs/Harney also have a clear vision of a dual system with a public service supplemented by private health insurance for those who can afford it and the private sector being hired by the state to clear backlogs or build facilities (EG: the treatment purchase fund).

    I can see several reasons why Cowen is keeping Harney:
    – he supports her agenda and wants to give her time to complete it. Cowen is a tecnocrat who spent much of his time in finance supporting public private partnerships.
    – she is a formidable opponent who would turn on him if sacked – he cannot afford to add to the opposition ranks and she can credibly attack from the right.

    I suspect there are many in FF who would give their right arm for Health. It is an awful job but it is a ministry and I have never met a politician who did not believe that he/she could make something of a cabinet job if given a chance.

    I think Harney has a mixed record. I disagree with her vision for health and think it will fail in the long run but she has implemented it decisively and has managed to reform the consultants’ contracts. OTOH her handling of the HSE has been poor and she seems to have run out of steam.

  • Mack

    PJM –

    On Labour – well in the UK they call it National Insurance and use it to fund public health 😉 Seriously I stand corrected. I asked a Labourite what their policy was and came away with the wrong impression in a one or two minute conversation. I thought they were pretty adamant in their opposition to private hospitals. Which isn’t compatible with the FG vision.

    PD ‘vision’ just looks like ad hoc modifications to the current system rather than anything with a clear idealogical or economic underpinning that will lead to better outcomes in health. E.g as articulated above a private health insurance system, could mean a free market in health insurance – although I’ve never heard anyone articulate an argument for this in Ireland? Or, it could mean, a heavily regulated one with a state owned dominant player (i.e what we have today)?