Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fantasy Cabinet Reshuffle


OUT - Mary Coughlan. It is hard to fathom what a thundering disgrace she has been as Minister for Jobs. There is only so much that we can blame on the economy but the rest lies firmly at her door. Gaffe-prone, out of touch and lightweight - she should be given her P45 from Cabinet immediately.

IN - John McGuinness. He and Calamity Coughlan have had their differences in the past when he was a Junior Minister at her Department. But nobody can deny that he was right all along. McGuinness is a serious politician and an able communicator. He would be an able heavyweight in the fight for jobs - unlike Coughlan.


BRIAN LENIHAN - One of the few existing cabinet ministers who should be allowed to stay in their job. He has been one of the few ministers who is actually able for his portfolio. He doesn’t suffer fools and despite a serious health setback, is determined to muddle through until the long-awaited green shoots start appearing. Also, NAMA is his baby and if it fails drastically, let it be on his watch.


MICHEAL MARTIN - The presentable and able face of the Irish Government should be left in Foreign Affairs where he has been very successful to date. One of the most experienced on the cabinet, he has previously served in Health, Education and Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Next move the leadership of Fianna Fail? An odds on favourite at this stage.


OUT - Dermot Ahern. Ahern let his mask slip during the confidencemotion in Willie O’Dea when he goaded the opposition and became nothing more than a corner boy with no manners. By doing so, he disgraced the office of Minister for Justice. Questions must be asked as to why he - a qualified solicitor - did not see the wrong and the seriousness in what O’Dea had done. Once seen as the golden boy of Fianna Fail, he has slid considerably down that greasy poll.

IN - Barry Andrews. Andrews has performed well in his role as Minister for Children. He legal background will stand to him in Justice - a non-controversial portfolio. But he needs to be more decisive and outspoken. Seen by too many as being wishy-washy.


OUT - Mary Harney. Harney has to go on so many levels. She is now the sole Independent TD on the Cabinet and while she has dedicated six years of her life to Health, she has achieved very little. Hospitals are still overcrowded, people are still dying on waiting lists and the management structure of the HSE is beyond a joke. We need a new broom in Health to sweep clean. This can’t be done under Harney.

IN - Mary Hanafin. Hanafin has proven that she is an able match for the big boys when it comes political scrapping and a promotion from Social and Family Affairs to Health should be something that she would take in her stride. An excellent communicator with no time for messers, Health could be the ultimate test to see if she has what it takes to climb even higher.


BATT O’KEEFFE - Leave him where he is as he seems to be making some progress. At 64, he is the oldest member of the cabinet but with over two years to go until an election, he should be left where he is to bring about the reform that he has promised. Likely to be his last cabinet position anyway due to his age.


OUT - Noel Dempsey. Old, stale, smug, arrogant, useless - need I go on? When the transport system is at a standstill, Dempsey jets off to sunny Malta waving his two fingers behind him. He has been a Minister since 1997 and almost 13 years later, it is time to get rid of him. He has become a huge irrelevancy in politics. Time to retire Noel.

IN - Dara Calleary. One of the new breed of Fianna Fail TDs - untainted from past scandals and with a genuine belief that they can work for the people. An excellent performer in the media, Calleary (36) has also been praised for his work ethic - something that is unheard of among many FF-ers. He is currently enjoying his first stint as a Junior Minister - now is the time to give him the ‘full car’.


OUT - John Gormley. Embarrassingly useless since he took the big seat in 2007. Has spent most of his time trying to keep his Green Party together than anything else. His flip-flop behaviour on the incinerator in Ringsend - his own back yard - has shown him for what he is - power-hungry.

IN - Dan Boyle. It is perfectly within Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s power to pull Boyle out of the Seanad and install him in the Cabinet. By doing so, he would have the REAL leader of the Green Party in office. Boyle may be a professional Tweeter, but at least he has the determination and the fight to have the Green voice heard at Cabinet.


OUT - Willie O’Dea. The small man with the big mouth has been forced to step down. He did wrong - no question about that. But by messing up, he has become the sacrificial lamb because of Green demands.

IN - Dermot Ahern. The Justice Minister put on such a pantomime defence of O’Dea during the confidence motion that maybe now is the time for him to become Minister for Defence. Ahern’s antics should not see him struck off the Cabinet completely - he is far too intelligent for that.


OUT - Martin Cullen. Useless, irrelevant, lazy and not up to the job, Cullen has been one big disaster on the political field since he landed his bum in a Ministerial Merc in 2007. Need we even mention the multi-million euro eVoting fiasco?

IN - Timmy Dooley. Dooley would see a bit of fresh blood in the Cabinet - something that is long overdue. Dooley (41) is not only an able politician, he could take the place of O’Dea as attack dog in chief for the Government. His appointment would also ensure that the Shannon region has a seat at the Cabinet table.


OUT - Mary Hanafin. She has bigger fish to fry and her political career is long from over. Health should be the next post for her.

IN - Michael McGrath. The 33-year-old Cork South Central TD is a newcomer to politics but that shouldn’t stop him from taking a place on the Cabinet. An accountant by profession, he has emerged as one of the faces to watch on the Fianna Fail back benches. A strong defender of Taoiseach Brian Cowen (which always helps!)


OUT - Brendan Smith. What has this man been doing? He is one of the most invisible Ministers in the Cabinet. His handling of the pork crisis over a year ago left a lot to be desired.

IN - John Gormley. Let’s see how his Green credentials work with the farmers of Ireland!


OUT - Eamon Ryan. One question Eamon - where’s our broadband? It is a major embarrassment that in 2010 there are still huge chunks of Ireland with no broadband. Apart from pontificating on what should be done, Ryan has achieved nothing in his Cabinet role.

IN - Conor Lenihan. While still an unknown quantity, Lenihan has been quietly impressive at Junior level. Now is his turn to shine at the Cabinet table. This portfolio would suit his practical experiences having worked in the area for some time before entering politics.


OUT - Eamon O Cuiv. His number’s up. Like others before him, he has been there for too long. So what that he is a grandson of Eamon de Valera? Dan Boyle is a cousin of Susan Boyle! O Cuiv’s inaction has put the future of this Department at serious risk of being scrapped completely.

IN - Eamon Ryan. Well he has to go somewhere or else the Green’s will throw another useless tantrum and demand action. Maybe Ryan will be the man to wind the Department down completely.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Someone will turnip to fill the void, lettuce hope...

A TD, a Senator, a Minister and a Junior Minister – all we need now is a head of state or a head of Government and we will have a royal flush of resignations.

Will the madness ever stop or could this be the clearest indication yet that a general election could be on the cards sooner than we thought?

This time last year, the Government had been written off but it survived the major hurdles of the Lisbon Treaty and the Budget.

January arrived and there was a spring in the step of the Government while Fine Gael slouched around, resigned to the fact that they would be in opposition for another while yet.

But after the quadruple whammy of George Lee, Deirdre de Burca, Willie O’Dea and Trevor Sargent – it’s anyone’s bet as to what will happen next.

As soon as Sargent’s position became untenable on Tuesday afternoon, the wags and twitterers were at it in full force.

King of the Tweets Dan Boyle gave an early indication in the day when he tweeted that Tuesday should have been about introducing Mark Dearey (new Green Senator) to the Seanad.

“Too many conflicting emotions,” he tweeted.

By the time Trevor had announced his resignation, the King of the Tweets was on the ball again – “We’re hurting. At least Trevor’s quiet dignity helps’.

But to online political wags, they had their own take on the controversy.

“To lose one Minister, Mr Cowen, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two Ministers looks like carelessness,” wrote one on the political website

Another, on the same site, remarked: “Revenge is a dish best served cold – Mathilde, 1841. Revenge is a dish best served feckin hot straight away with some spuds and tae – Fianna Fail 2010”.

But the comment of the day relating to Sargent’s departure was: “Someone will turnip to fill the void, lettuce hope. Someone who has bean there, dung that.”

TD Keeps It Old School

Junior Minister Dara Calleary is being tipped for bigger things – but that hasn’t stopped him from looking after the smaller things that matter most to him, like his old alma mater.

Calleary is a past pupil of St Muredach’s College in Ballina, the school motto of which is ‘Viriliter Agite’ (Act in a Manly Fashion).

And so he did – by snaring €100,000 towards the provision of safety measures in the vicinity of his old school.

The money was allocated by the National Roads Authority towards the provision of footpaths, traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing at the famous college as part of €1.3m that was sanctioned for roadworks in the Ballina area.

Nice to see the old boys’ network at St Muredach’s is alive and kicking!

A Successful Operation for Tom!

TDs and Senators from across all party divides are taking this Operation Transformation lark very seriously indeed – and the results have to be seen to be believed.

Take Kerry South TD Tom Sheahan, for example.

He has already lost two stone thanks to his participation in the RTE programme – and that is just the start.

“I can finally see my toes for the first time in a long time,” he said.

“I will have to go out now and buy new suits for myself. It is expensive business,” he said.

In honour of Trevor Sargent!

A few words of consolation for Trevor Sargent – compliments of Kermit the Frog.

“It’s not that easy being green,
Having to spend each day the colour of the leaves,
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold,
Or something much more colourful like that.”

“It’s not easy being green,
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things,
And people tend to pass you over because you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

There's Something About Mary!

The late Charlie Haughey picked the wrong woman to spar with when he tried to put former President Mary Robinson in her box!

History has it that Charlie was used to getting his own way – he taunted people, he teased people, he forced people to do things so that he would succeed at the end of the day.

And now we learn that he tried to bully the woman who held the highest office in the land – Mary Robinson – during her term as President.

That a serving Taoiseach would even contemplate treating a sitting President in a bullying fashion is incredible, considering the legal expertise that Robinson has.

It all happened shortly after Mary Robinson – a legal expert – was elected President of Ireland. Needless to say, Haughey’s nose would have been severely out of joint given the fact that she was a Labour nominee.

Robinson was hugely popular at the Aras and this irked Haughey.

So one day he turned up in the Pheonix Park armed with papers telling her that he had legal opinion to say that she was doing things with the presidency that she wasn’t legally entitled to do.

But he was barking up the wrong tree with Mary Robinson as she knew better – she was an expert in Constitutional Law after all.

She recalled how Haughey – completely exasperated by not getting his way – threw his legal papers on the ground in front of her and stormed off annoyed.

She has revealed that Haughey tried to bully her – ‘he tried to put me in my box’, she said.

His efforts to do so show the low esteem the controversial Haughey placed in the office of President – especially that it wasn’t one of his own in office.

Labouring a Conspiracy Theory?

This column would never describe Labour Senator Dominic Hannigan as a conspiracy theorist but he could be on to something when it comes to the Green disharmony at the moment.

The Meath Senator ‘doesn’t buy’ the spin being put around that Deirdre de Burca quit because she was miffed about not getting the European job with new EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn.

The bigger question, he says, is what this tells us about what is going on inside the Green Party.

Writing on his blog, he said it is clear that there is a growing sense of dissatisfaction within the Green Oireachtas members.

“It can’t be nice for them to see the party they joined and built be one election away from disaster. For a few of the Oireachtas members, there can be little hope.”

But, he said, Paul Gogarty and Eamon Ryan may have a fighting chance come the next election.

“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if either or both of these decided that their future is best served by pulling the Greens out of Government.”

“I think that Ministerial pensions kick in after three years in office, which is in just four months time. Could we see them break out soon after then?”

You could be onto something there, Dominic.

Cookie Monster Barry Andrews!

‘A love in’ – that is how one political wag described the launch of the final report into the proposed constitutional amendment on the rights of the child earlier this week.

For those in the dark, it is basically the final wording for a proposed referendum which will acknowledge and protect the rights of children.

The Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children was headed up by Ireland’s national treasure, Deputy Mary O’Rourke.

It seems for the few minutes that this report was being launched, there was all-party unity, with everyone of all political hues gushing on how there was agreement across the board.

And the love-in was even represented in the refreshments available – chocolate chip cookies (a far cry from the digestives and custard creams we have become accustomed to!)

Some just couldn’t get enough of the cookies – Children’s Minister Barry Andrews was spotted leaving the launch munching his way through one!

The only way is Up for Bertie!

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is taking his grandfather duties a bit too seriously after morphing into a new cartoon character that is melting hearts across the country.

When The Bert turned up at his local, Fagans, to watch the special 3D game featuring his beloved Man Utd, he was handed a special pair of 3D glasses.

And with one gesture, he magically turned into Carl Fredricksen – the heart-broken former balloon salesman and star of the cartoon movie Up.

In the movie, Carl is forced to leave the house that he and his late wife built together. But instead of moving into an old folks home, he ties thousands of balloons to the roof of the house, lifts it up into the air and sets off towards South Africa.

In Bertie’s case, maybe he is planning a similar escape if he doesn’t get the nod for the Mayor of Dublin job!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vanquished Opponents Left Fuming over Lee

Whatever about the nation being shocked with George Lee’s shock resignation on Monday, spare a thought for the candidates who contested the by-election against him - they are fuming.

First and foremost there is Cllr Jim O’Leary - who was elected for Fine Gael to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council as far back as 2004.

He was the favourite to run for Fine Gael in an era that has now become BG (before George). He ran for the party in the 2007 general election and acquitted himself relatively well considering that the Dublin South constituency saw two Fine Gaelers elected that time.

When the by-election came around, most people in the constituency believed that Jim would run as he was well-known for his council work over the previous years. Even Jim believed he would be running.

But George Lee’s star was simply too bright and Jim was asked to put his ambitions aside for a while to make room for the RTE star.

Needless to say, Jim was very disappointed by loyally stood aside for the sake of the party.

Then there was Labour’s Alex White - a shoe-in to win the seat BG (before George) thanks to Labour riding high in opinion polls.

But even a combination of his popularity and the popularity of the Labour party couldn’t tarnish the shine coming from Lee’s halo.

And then there was the youngest of the group - Sinn Fein’s Shaun Tracey, who this week pointed out the level of frustration in Dublin South at the fact that they will have to go to the polls again in the near future.

“This fiasco amounts to a further waste of the public’s money by Fine Gael as there will now have to be a re-run of the Dublin South by-election,” he said.

And then there is Shay Brennan - son of the late and well-respected Seamus Brennan whose death prompted the by-election in the first place.

On a pre-election debate on Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3, he actually asked Lee if he would be sticking to politics and if he would contest the next general election - to which Lee said he would.

When asked this week, Shay said he was disappointed in Lee’s decision to resign after just eight months in the Dail.

But he added a sting in the tail when commenting about his future political ambitions.

“I am not a quitter. I will run again,” he said.

The Joke's On You, George!

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away!

Expect the jokes about George Lee fleeing the blueshirts to start flying about quicker than Charlie Bird’s stint in Washington.

Here’s a few to get you started:

RTE have created a new Reality Show starring Charlie Bird and George Lee – it’s called ‘Celebrity Big Baby’!

Charlie Bird and George Lee are to guest star in the blockbusting TV series ‘Lost’ – playing themselves!

George Lee is returning to RTE and has already been given a primetime TV slot juggling numbers – he will be the new host of Telly Bingo!

The Fine Gael party now know what it is like to live in Cork during bad weather – they know how it feels when the Lee bursts its banks.

For Peter's Sake, RTE!

Hell hath no fury like a Fianna Fail TD irked – well such is the case
with Longford TD Peter Kelly.

It seems that Peter is annoyed that George Lee will be able to ‘step straight back into a plum job in RTE’ after just eight months as a TD.

“I find this completely unbelievable, particularly in the current economic climate,” he said.

“The system whereby other people like teachers, barristers, etc return to their jobs after their time on a career break is over is well established and there are good reasons for it.

"But it is different with RTE. They are supposed to be imparting the news in an independent, dispassionate and detached fashion. To have a revolving door, as seems to be the case for some individuals, is hardly right.

“If people leave RTE to enter politics they should not be able to flit back in the door if they cannot cope,” the Longford legend said.

Dublin South Up For Grabs

So now that the Glee Club ceases to exist, just who will take the seat in Dublin South?

Paddy Power have installed Fine Gael and Labour as 5/6 joint-favourites to win the seat in Dublin South which became vacant earlier today after the shock resignation of George Lee.

Success for Fianna Fail in Dublin South is considered less likely according to the bookies odds of 14/1 with both the Green Party and Sinn Fein complete outsiders in the betting at odds of 50/1 and 100/1 respectively.

“This could be an excellent opportunity for Labour to get a foothold in Dublin South and early betting trends suggest that punters believe that’s the case,” Paddy Power said.

Facebooking the Clinics!

First it was the politicians taking over Facebook and now it seems one of the younger TDs is experimenting with holding a special weekly clinic via the popular social networking site.

Meath East Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne has announced to all that he is starting a Facebook clinic every Wednesday morning between 10am and 10.30am - or anytime he is online.

“Just open a chatbox, email or write on my wall,” the innovative young Soldier of Destiny says.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sean Saves Our Duty Free

The next time you are sitting back with a glass of 10-year-old whiskey bought in the duty free, raise a toast to MEP and former GAA supremo Sean Kelly.

For if it were not for his dogged determination, duty free could be a thing of the past given the direction that the World Health Organisation was heading.

OK – so Duty Free doesn’t exist within Europe. But to the people travelling to and from the US and farther a field, it is a boom business.

Even the thought of banning it completely would have sent a serious economic shiver down Ireland’s backbone.

This week, the World Health Organisation decided to drop its proposal to ban sales of duty free alcohol. Sean Kelly had previously contacted the European Commission and asked them to oppose the proposal.

The duty free sector is worth €2 billion in sales annually in the EU.

"I was concerned about the effect such a proposal could have had on jobs, especially for airports such as Shannon, Cork and Kerry in my constituency who rely heavily on duty free sales,” Kelly said.

“Aer Rianta International would have experienced a huge drop in its profits worldwide network of duty free shops. And Irish producers of leading brands of whisky and other alcohol products would also have suffered significant financial loss.”

So rather than sitting in a grey room in Brussels, it seems that new MEP Sean Kelly is actually doing something substantial for not just his constituents – who like a tipple every now and then – but for the people of Ireland as a whole who are sick of the Political Correctness coming from Europe.

Thanks Sean – I raise my glass of single malt to you!

Going Mad About Politics

Happy Birthday to – the well-known website that we now definitively know is home to a certain number of loons!

The political discussion site was set up by entrepreneur David Cochrane seven years ago and has mushroomed into an anonymous who’s who of all in the political world.

TDs and Ministers are known to read the site (and contribute, anonymously of course) and it is the front line of defence, spin and rumour mongering for many political parties.

But it seems the site is now preventing new users from registering.

“The simple truth is that there are a handful of people who are registering account after account after account in order to troll, send abusive private messages and game the site in any way they can,” Cochrane wrote on the site.

“As with all political discourse, we’ve attracted our fair share of loons who just don’t want to play nice.”

Loons abusively writing about politics? Who’d have thought!!

Poll Work Underway

The date still hasn’t been set but work is getting way on the ground in Donegal for the Donegal South West by-election, which is due to be held later this year.

The by-election is being held to fill the vacancy left by Fianna Fail’s Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, who was elected to the European Parliament last year.

The latest candidate to be given a seal of approval by his party to contest the by-election is Labour’s Frank McBrearty, who is due to be formally selected this weekend.

McBrearty was one of two Labour Party councillors elected for the first time to Donegal County Council in the 2009 local elections.

Batt Spells It Out For Fine Gael

Saucer of milk for Education Minister Batt O' Keeffe who has told Fine Gael that they must try harder when it comes to spelling!!!

To be fair to Fine Gael, they are a more than capable tag-team when it comes to all matters educational – just as the Minister is when Fine Gael starts criticising them!

So the claws were well and truly out earlier this week when Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes issued a press release giving out about the slow rate of school building last year.

The only problem with the release was – the Minister’s name was spelled incorrectly, O’Keefe as opposed the correct O’Keeffe.

And that was all the ammunition that Batt needed in his statement on the issue.

“Finally, Minister O’Keeffe urged Deputy Hayes to show example by taking more care with spelling, pointing out that his press office consistently spells his name with one ‘f’,” the statement read.

There’s only one ‘f’ in Fine Gael but two in O’Keeffe!!

Speaking Up for Donegal

Teaching Irish online is all fine and dandy but it is a bit silly to omit one of the most popular dialects in the language – that from Donegal.

Or so says Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty in response to the launch of the ‘Abair Leat’ pilot project launched in schools this week.

“Although I welcome any initiative which promotes Gaeilge as a spoken language I am concerned at the absence of the Donegal dialect in this new programme,” he said.

“The Donegal dialect must not be discriminated against and it is important that the student has experience of all three dialects in preparation for the Scrúdú Béil at leaving cert level.”

Aye, Senator, Aye!