Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Enda the Cabinet Maker.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 28, 2011 in Election 2011, Irish Politics |

And now, the fun bit.

And now, the fun bit.

From Andrea Pappin and myself:

As the final counts take place and until Dick Roche realises he has actually lost his seat, there’s one thing that will be on everyone’s minds in political circles: government negotiations. Fine Gael are in the driving seat and have said they will be announcing their negotiating team and making calls to ‘potential Government partners’ in the morning. And while they may posture and start calling some Independents to try and make up the numbers, everyone knows that trying to control ten or eleven Independent TDs would be like trying to put cats in a bag. So, the real show in town is talks with the Labour Party. 

There are two parts to the negotiations – 1. policy and 2. places at the Cabinet table. Policy is harder to ascertain now apart from the fact that regardless of how well the Programme for Goverment negotations go, Labour will get hammered harder for ‘acquiescing’ on their manifesto than Fine Gael will. But what is the real interesting show is who is going to tog out for the FG/Labour cabinet team.

The Irish Constitution is pretty broad on the Cabinet – all is really says is that it has to be between 7 and 15 people and that the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Finance have to all be from the Dail. After that, it’s pretty much fair game for the leading party. In reality, when building an Irish cabinet you’ve got to balance three areas, known in the business as the 3Gs – gender, geography and generation. So with that in mind, here are the votes from the www.election2011.ie jury on what our new Cabinet is going to look like:

Labour (5 cabinet seats)

Have got to balance experience with age which is the long-term perception of the party (though the raft of TDs are very much going to cock two fingers at people who keep harping on about that). The cabinet choices however will have to bring people with skills without looking like they need to make standard issue knee rugs for Cabinet meetings. Further to this there is still the remnants of an internal split, not seen outside of the party, between ‘old Labour’ and ‘Democratic Left’ which will no doubt get a bit of airtime when Labour are deciding their top five for the coveted posts.

  1. Eamon GILMORE (Dun Laoghaire): Well, duh.

  2. Joan BURTON (Dublin West): Couldn’t not. Sure what would Vincent do without her? Won’t be a big economic portfolio as much as she would like it to be.

  3. Pat RABBITTE (Dublin South West): Solid media performer, with previous Cabinet experience as a Super Junior Minister in the 90s Government. Would be surprised if he was also not on the Government negotiating team too.

  4. Jan O’SULLIVAN (Limerick City): Interesting thing about women in politics. While there are few to get elected, once you’re there, your chances of getting a Cabinet post are much higher. Jan is a safe pair of hands and also brings a non-Dublin geography to the Labour team.

  5. Ciaran LYNCH (Cork South Central) or Sean SHERLOCK (Cork East): Both returning to the House after first being elected in 2007, either one of these TDs will help keeping the age profile lower while also balancing the regional element of the team.

The team put out for the government negotiations will give a good inkling on Labour’s five choices. And further to this, don’t rule out a ‘Super Junior’ Ministry or two for Labour. Ruairi QUINN has been overlooked in this line up but with only three years until the European Commissioner post is available and many Committee Chairs that will need good hands, Ruairi will know that benefit of having one of the Cork TDs on the team.

Fine Gael (10 cabinet seats)

Fine Gael have fewer women in their parliamentary party than they would like to admit, which puts some of the well known female faces well positions to take a seat. For them there will need to balance geography with the ‘Irregulars’ – that is those people who were not so keen on the person who now is handing out the portfolios. But keep your friends close and all that, so one or two will get the call.

  1. Enda KENNY (Mayo): He’s got a five-point plan. To get Ireland working.

  2. Richard BRUTON (Dublin North Central): Smart man. Well, Oxford thought so as they gave him a degree there.

  3. Lucinda CREIGHTON (Dublin South East): Brought in a second TD in her constituency while also topping the poll. Recognised face which will be too busy as a Minister. Don’t think she’ll be getting ‘equality’ or accepting any invite to The George’s Sunday Night Bingo.

  4. Leo VARADKAR (Dublin West): Known media performer. And young. Will be used as the bulldog on a chain by Enda to help get things done in the coalition.

  5. Simon COVENEY (Cork South Central): Brings the geography. Brings the youth thing. Brings the tea.

  6. Michael NOONAN (Limerick City): The Winston Churchill of Fine Gael. Being given a second run and people realise that actually he’s not too bad.

  7. James REILLY (Dublin North) The Bearded One shall be anointed. And then appointed…to Health?

  8. Frances FITZGERALD (Dublin Mid West): It’s a choice really between Frances and Olivia Mitchell for the ‘sensible older lady whose got experience’ seat. Think Frances wants the Minister post more, and will get it.

  9. Charlie FLANAGAN (Laois Offaly): Geography, geography, geography.

  10. Denis NAUGHTEN (Roscommon South Leitrim): Sensible guy. Who will get one of those mid-level sensible portfolios to match.

After that, the patronage extends to jobs like Junior Ministries and Parliamentary Committee Chairs and other choice jobs like Ceann Comhairle (Olivia MITCHELL maybe?). And before you ask Phil HOGAN will get a nod… as Chief Whip which allows him to be in Taoiseach’s Department (as a Junior Minister) while also being able to knock some heads together as Enda’s Heavy, which he seems to be happy to do. Another interesting one to watch out for is Attorney General, could Eugene REGAN get the nod or will he be beaten to it by another from the Law Library?

Additional comment by Jason: Will Enda start his new politics agenda by bringing in Pat COX either through the Seanad or by changing the law to allow him be appointed as a minister of state for Europe, to which one could be appointed to without being a TD with a referendum? That’ll be a test as to how serious FG are about changing the way politics works.

2 Comments

Luke
Feb 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

It’ll be an interesting week of negotiations between the parties. I hope FG don’t water their policy down too much, then again Labour were full of empty promises so not sure what they’ll want.


 
Observer
Mar 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Can’t really see this all panning out as above to be honest.

From Labour it will definitely be Gilmore, Quinn, Burton and two of Rabbitte, Howlin and Sherlock.

From FG it will be definitely be Kenny, Hogan, Noonan, Shatter, Reilly, Fitzgerald and Bruton. After that it will between one of Coveney, Creed or Stanton from the South – probably Coveney. Someone from non-Dublin Leinster or the Border region – probably O’Dowd and then someone else – Leo Varadkar, Andrew Doyle, Michael Ring, Brian Hayes, and Jimmy Deenihan. Given the high profile of Varadkar in the election campaign and in selling the FG message it should be him but you never know.

The only thing is if Shatter becomes AG it will free up another place for FG.


 

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