Anyone with a heart would have felt a teeny bit sorry for Mary Coughlan as she entered the lions den of public service anger when he addressed her first teachers’ conference in Galway on Tuesday.
The poor woman was terrified - and it showed.
Opting not to ad-lib but to stick firmly with the speech, she came across as dispassionate and uninterested. While this was obviously not her intention, that is the way it sounded to the delegates of the INTO conference.
While the teachers don’t suffer fools, the new General Secretary of the INTO Sheila Nunan - who has just taken over from the legendary John Carr - had a few kind and encouraging words for the new Minister for Education.
“If you don’t believe half the things you are told about teachers, we won’t believe half of the things we hear about you,” she said to a rousing applause.
And to be fair to Mary Coughlan - she took it very well and had a good hearty laugh about it.