You know that when the depiction of Tony Killeen and Pat Carey are presented as the bright new hopes for any project, that there is bound to be a certain amount of disappointment, but the Government reshuffle that was presented to us this week as the beginning of a new era leaves us distinctly underwhelmed. Competent ministers they may well be, but the grounds for their promotion are based more on loyalty rather than any any great aptitude for the job in hand.
Although it would have been unrealistic to have expected wholesale slaughter at the Cabinet table, the changes to the personnel involved are hardly likely to inspire much confidence among the electorate and among the backbenches on the Fianna Fail side. To paraphrase President Obama, if this is what change looks like, God help us should they choose to maintain the status quo.
Remember our new Minister for Education is the woman who said that Einstein drew up the theory of Evolution. What a role model for the students to have. There seems to be a distinct lack of qualification in this Cabinet to make them suitable to head up their new departments. Now, we have a cabinet of pension-puffed teachers in charge of steering the country.
In time, perhaps the reshuffle will be noted only for Leo Varadkar’s comments about Garret Fitzgerald — comments which although they may be correct, should perhaps be kept for a more private forum. All they have served to do now is highlight the tedium of Dr Fitzgerald’s articles and give Fianna Fail and the Government a stick to forever beat Varadkar with.
However, here in the west, there is relief that Galway has managed to hold onto its seat at the Cabinet table, and indeed there is pleasant surprise that the portfolio handed to our Minister is in fact a key brief.
It would have been cruel were MInister O Cuiv to have been sacrificed by the restructuring of his department, but also because of the key role he played in securing both Government approval and Volvo approval to secure the lucrative VOR final leg that will protect Galway and the west from the worst of the recession over the next two years.
However, this will be a new challenge for the Cornamona-based Minister. Up to now, his detractors have often been labelled as people who do not understand the intricacies of a rural brief, but perhaps this is the most crucial appointment that he will have ever received, as he will have to display different strengths in order to make a name for himself.
And while Galway may have benefited from Minister O Cuiv’s continued stay at the Cabinet table, the overall impression of this reshuffle is that it was a missed opportunity by the Taoiseach to invigorate his party and the body politic. That he has chosen not to do so may come back to haunt him before the next election.