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Kenny snub to neighbours leaves Galway in the cold

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Lost out...former Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I was on leave last week and stayed (mostly) away from current affairs. Like the Garda holding the speed radar in the Kit Kat ad, the moment I turned my back, all hell broke less.

A slight exaggeration, but the reshuffle of the junior Cabinet did turn out to be almost as eventful as the one involving senior Ministers the week before.

It was always known that when the axe fell in Fine Gael, most of the action would be taking place in the junior ranks.

Enda Kenny is a minimalist by nature. A lot of his thinking was informed by a disastrous reshuffle in the 1980s in which Garret FitzGerald tried to chop and change but which backfired spectacularly. The 2010 leadership battle showed that Kenny can be ruthless but against that he is incredibly loyal to those who support him. So there was a genuine belief right up to the end that Jimmy Deenihan might be saved.

That loyalty did not really extend to the junior ranks. He had some room for manoeuvre. Paschal Donohoe had been promoted; Brian Hayes had moved on to Europe. There were another two who could not be moved. Paul Kehoe is one of his most loyal lieutenants and would not be sacked. However, it was never likely he would be promoted so he stayed put as chief whip.

The other certainty was Michael Ring. If Kenny sacked Ring as a junior minister, there would have been all-out war in Mayo and that was the last thing a Taoiseach defending in a constituency with a reduced seat count needed.

But the others were tumbled. Fergus O’Dowd, John Perry, Ciaran Cannon and Dinny McGinley were all sacked, all of them replaced by Fine Gaelers of the younger generation –  Simon Harris, Dara Murphy, Damien English and Joe McHugh.

With such a large parliamentary party, with such a geographical divide and with such a limited number of seats it was always going to be hard for Kenny to satisfy his own TDs.

But that said, the new selections were attacked under three counts: the lack of women, the poor geographical spread; and the lack of expertise of one of the appointments.

Let’s deal with them in turn. Back in 2011, there was justified criticism of the disproportionately large male representation in Cabinet. Some of this was directed at Labour and then leader Eamon Gilmore’s decision to promote only one woman.

Well that woman is now leader and it was always a certainty that Joan Burton would correct that balance by promoting a female colleague to senior Ministry. And that choice was Jan O’Sullivan who is very efficient and relatively effective but who won’t be the most dynamic Minister of Education in the history of the State.

On the Fine Gael side, Heather Humphreys was a surprise choice. She has been a solid backbencher but there is absolutely no evidence she has a feel or knowledge of Arts, Hertitage and the Gaeltacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Donohoe discovers it’s the little things that trip you every time

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Minister Paschal Donohoe...embarrassing revelation.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

When the law finally caught up with Al Capone, it was not for organised crime, or for boot-legging – it was for failing to pay his taxes.

There’s a bit of a leap of imagination required for us to segue to the next paragraph. But stay with me …

We are writing about Paschal Donohoe, and the similarity is in the way that is the fact that it is a minor – and unexpected – fault or omission or act, that has also made his position vulnerable.

Donohoe is the third Minister in the past six months to find himself in hot water – not because of policies or Government decisions, but over omissions on personal declarations.

It might seem like a relatively trivial matter when compared with the huge impact that Government policies have on people’s lives. But governance is important.

Last autumn, the Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy ran into trouble when the online investigative site, On the Ditch, investigated his property interests. It emerged that Troy, a Minister of State for Enterprise, had not declared all his properties in his register of interests.

Troy initially did not respond but when he did it was only a partial explanation. Then there was more new information about his properties that was not known before. When you are explaining, you are losing, the American political adviser Karl Rove famously said. Now Troy was explaining and the more he explained the closer he got to the exit door. In the end he had no choice but to go.

Then only last week, the same website broke a story about Damien English and his home in Meath. This one went back a long time, to 2008 when English was a 30-year-old backbench TD.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Two Frank Fahys – sharing a name but not ideologies

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Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.... graveside oration.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

This is the story of two Fahys from East Galway. Both were involved in politics. One was a priest; the other a teacher and a barrister. Both opposed the Treaty but from the 1920s their paths diverged radically.   I had no knowledge of either man until very recently. Then a biography of Frank Fahy, written by Michael Fahy, was published last year.

‘Frank Fahy, Revolutionary and Public Servant’ is a fascinating account of how a teacher’s son from Kilchreest, born in 1879, became a leading figure in the Easter Rising, chose the anti-treaty side in the civil war, and became the Dáil’s longest serving Ceann Comhairle, chairing the chamber for 19 years.

Fr John Fahy was 14 years younger than his namesake but was already a militant nationalist by the time of his ordination in 1919. He travelled back to Ireland to attend the funeral of the republican priest Fr Michael Griffin, who was kidnapped and killed by the Auxiliaries.

Like Frank Fahy he took the anti-treaty side but for the turbulent priest there would be no reconciliation. He remained an unreconstructed militant until his death five decades later.

Frank Fahy went to UCG and became a teacher in Castleknock College in Dublin. He was a beautiful Irish speaker and very involved in Conradh na Gaeilge, becoming general secretary for a time.

He took part in the Easter Rising, being second-in-command of the brigade which took over the Four Courts. After narrowly escaping execution, he was one of the new MPs elected to Westminster when Sinn Fein’s won a complete landslide in 1918.

Taking the anti-treaty side, he was an abstentionist TD but joined Fianna Fáil when it was founded in La Scala in 1926. Michael Fahy paints a great scene when Frank Fahy topped the poll in Co Galway in 1932, which ushered in the first Fianna Fáil government.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Ten political pointers and the perennial sporting question

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Leo Varadkar...year of the lion or the pussycat?

World of Politics with Harry McGee

As we begin a new year here are ten things to look out for in politics in 2023 – with the perennial sporting question thrown in for good measure at the finish.

  1. Read My Lips, No elections

It’s not an election year. The European and local elections will not take place until 2024 and the next general election is not scheduled to take place until 2025. Governments don’t always run their full five year term in Ireland.

But this is different. There is a historic agreement between the two Civil War parties to rotate the Taoiseach’s position. Fianna Fáil has got its time and it would be considered a betrayal of the most fundamental kind for it to renege on its part of the dial.

At this stage, too, it looks unlikely that the Greens will pull out of Government. In reality, it would take a calamity. Calamities, of course, are not unheard of, But at this moment, it looks unlikely.

  1. Leo, the Lion or the Pussycat

Leo Varadkar took over for his second stint as Taoiseach in mid-December. He said that he has learned from the mistakes he made during his first outing in the top job.

The cut of his jib back then was pro-enterprise, fiscally conservative, low taxes Fine Gael. That’s still the basic formula but he’s stopped playing the sharp keys and opted for a softer melody.

He still talks about the need to lower taxes but that comes across as a wish or aspiration these day, rather than policy. Irrespective of what you think of him, Varadkar is a clear thinker, a strong communicator, with a good political head and is ideological Fine Gael rather than heritage Fine Gael.

He’s in a three-way coalition though so no matter how much each party tries to assert its identity, it all ends up diluted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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