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.
MINISTER FOR FINANCE:
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.
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
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.
MINISTER FOR JUSTICE:
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.
MINISTER FOR HEALTH:
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.
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION:
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.
MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT:
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’.
MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT:
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.
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE:
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.
MINISTER FOR ARTS, SPORTS AND TOURISM:
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.
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AND FAMILY AFFAIRS:
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!)
MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE:
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!
MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES:
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.
MINISTER FOR COMMUNITY, RURAL AND GAELTACHT AFFAIRS:
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.