Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Political World

Kenny snub to neighbours leaves Galway in the cold

Published

on

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

Parties no longer getting their own way at annual think-ins

Published

on

Brian Cowen, Mary Hannafin, and Bertie Ahern at the Fianna Fail think-in at Inchydoney back in 2004.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

It’s Autumn and leaves are falling from the trees and blackberries are ripe and the party think-ins are in full flow. These away days for parties were originally to bring the parliamentary parties together after the summer break so they could regather their thoughts and come up with their strategies for the new Dáil session.

Then the bigger parties started getting guest speakers in, sometimes to give a contrary and unorthodox view on the economy or society.

It was at one such meeting in Inchydoney Hotel in Cork in 2004 when Fr Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland addressed Fianna Fáil to explain to them that all the prosperity that had come into Ireland in recent years had led to widening inequalities.

It was out of that that the Inchydoney Strategy emerged, a reorientation by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of his party’s prevailing ideology. The Fianna Fáil leader declared himself a socialist at the Cork resort and the party began to promote policies in Government that were less about economic expansion, more about the social dividend.

All of this happened during the course of the Celtic Tiger, when the economy was expanding at a ferocious rate, and already beginning to show signs of overheating. Ahern replaced Charlie McCreevy as Minister for Finance (he became EU Commissioner) with Brian Cowen. The Offaly TD was seen as less ‘PD’ than McCreevy. Indeed, he had famously said of the Progressive Democrats at an Ard Fheis: “When in doubt, leave them out.”

That strategy did reorient the economy but it was probably too late even then. The Celtic Tiger was at its height and Cowen pulled his punches when it came to taking the hard decisions between 2004 and 2008, with a series of milk-and-water budgets.

The Fianna Fáil manifesto for the 2007 general election was great for the party to get back into power but awful for the economy and society. The implications were not seen for two years, but when the symptoms of malaise appeared, of course, it was far too late to do anything about it.

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.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Coveney gets the mood of the room wrong on Zappone role

Published

on

Simon Coveney addresses the Dail Committee over the offer of a UN role to Katherine Zappone.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

When his time came to resign as Taoiseach a long time ago after a series of unedifying crises and scandals, then Fianna Fáil leader Albert Reynolds coined a memorable phrase: “It’s the little things that trip you up.”

An aide of another Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, once told me Kenny’s daily task was like being handed a skipping rope in the morning and told to skip all day. If he tripped up even once, it could have been the end for him.

I was reminded of all that while looking at Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, going through a difficult two hours (for the second time in a week) on Tuesday.

It was all to do with the appointment of his former government colleague, Katherine Zappone (who was an independent TD for Dublin South-West between 2016 and 2020), as a special envoy to the UN.

In the scheme of things, it was a relatively small matter. In the span of Coveney’s career – a quarter of a century as a TD, a decade as a senior minister – he has made, and been subject to, some major decisions.

Even last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin (of Fianna Fáil, don’t forget) made a huge effort to downplay this. His argument? Zappone was offered what amounted to a part-time role. The row over the appointment was a classic political “bubble” stuff. The reaction was overblown and melodramatic. And so on and so forth, as the Taoiseach frequently says.

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.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

FF must decide what it stands for before convincing anyone else

Published

on

Micheál Martin

World of Politics with Harry McGee

A decade ago, the late political commentator Noel Whelan wrote a history of Fianna Fáil, published several months after the 2011 general election, when the party had just suffered the most disastrous result in its history. It had won 78 seats in 2007 – but after that, its mismanagement of the economy was cruelly exposed in subsequent years.

The party crashed to Earth in early 2011: its representation fell to 20 – reduced to 19 when outgoing finance minister, Brian Lenihan, succumbed to cancer shortly after the general election. It left the party without a single TD in Dublin.

Whelan honed-in on a speech its new leader, Micheál Martin, gave to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the founding of the party at the La Scala Theatre on 16 May 1926.

The theme of Martin’s speech was renewal. He told those gathered for the occasion: “If we return Fianna Fáil to the core principles that for so many years won the support and loyalty of the Irish people, we will not only renew the party, we will renew a vital positive force in the life of our nation.

“I want Fianna Fáil to be that great party it once was and to be in touch with, and responsive to, the needs of the Irish people.”

Whelan was very pessimistic about the future for the party in spite of Martin’s forceful rallying cry.

He wrote: “[During 2011] Fianna Fáil battled to come to terms with the scale of its loss of power, position and prestige. It failed even to field a candidate for the presidency. It remains to be seen whether Fianna Fáíl will be around to commemorate any more significant anniversaries. The omens are not good for its recovery.”

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.

 

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending