Wouldn’t it be a novelty if we could actually base a cabinet on talent as opposed to whatever rotting cadavers the electoral cat dragged in, that is, the ability to play hurling or download social welfare leaflets for constituents impressed by indoor plumbing. The arguments against having non-elected members of the cabinet are completely spurious in this country. Its opponents say that it is “undemocratic.” Yet these same people (Nearly all FF TDs, funnily enough) had no problem giving the non-elected Brendan Drumm control over a bigger budget than most cabinet ministers have. The truth is that politicians against appointed cabinet ministers are against the notion for purely selfish reasons: There are far more talented and capable people outside the Dail than inside, because that’s the way our electoral system works. (For a very interesting overview of that, read Elaine Byrne’s excellent piece here in yesterday’s Irish Times.) The US and many other EU states have mechanisms to bring talented people into government. We actually do as well, but we never use it because Fianna Fail TDs in particular regard ministerial appointment as primarily a source of reward as opposed to public service.
Anyway, here’s my thoughts on a fantasy “Government of All The Talents”:
Minister for Finance: George Lee
Getting public consent for the hard times ahead will involve being able to communicate the problems to the public, something Lee has proven adept at.
Minister for Public Sector Reform: Richard Bruton
We need a good solid details man with the ability to think strategically. Richie might be the man.
Minister for Justice: Fintan O’Toole
Again, in order to stomach the pain, the public will want to see a man of integrity go after the toerags. Like him or loathe him, is there anyone who doubts his integrity?
Minister for Foriegn Affairs: Pat Cox
He knows the material and has got the political heft (Great word, that.) on the European stage to repair the damage done by Lisbon.
Minister for the Environment: John Gormley
Still the best chance we have of taking the environment seriously. A true believer.
Minister for Local Government: Dermot Lacey
Former Labour Lord Mayor of Dublin and one of the few local authority members who actually believes in local government as an noble end in itself as opposed to a resting post on the way to the Dail.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment: Ruairi Quinn
Again, a man of integrity with an appreciation for long term thinking.
Minister for Health: Mary Harney
Will surprise people with this choice, but most who oppose her have no fresh ideas other than to reverse her policies, and take us back to a health service actually worse than it is today. Just look at the stats. She looked for the job and has taken on some of the sacred cows.
Minister for Energy: Ed Walsh
Time to think the unthinkable about nuclear power, and Prof. Ed Walsh is the man to lead the debate.
Minister for Education: Noel Dempsey
Has shown himself to have the guts to think outside the box on third level fees and electoral reform.
And Taoiseach? We need someone the public feels isn’t part of the same old politcal boys club, but has the brains too, as well as a proven ability to communicate well. I give you, An Taoiseach: