Given that a new European Commission will take office later in 2014, I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts, some from far left field, as to who might be the next Irish commissioner.
Phil Hogan is the name being bandied about most. He’s been loyal to Enda, and word has it that he actually enjoyed the EU presidency and chairing the Environment Council. Downside is that Enda loses one of his closest henchmen, probably loses the by-election, and let us not forget that the new Commission President will almost certainly be telling all the national leaders that nominating a female commissioner will get them a better portfolio.
Simon Coveney had a good EU presidency, was apparently liked by his EU colleagues, and could be well suited to be Agriculture commissioner. The problem for him is that he has a fair chance of being the next leader of FG. If Enda is re-elected in 2016, and runs for the park soon after, thus completing the hat-trick of making FG the largest party, getting an FG govt re-elected, and being the first FG president, Coveney will not be in the Dail. And he has testicles. Actual testicles, as opposed to metaphorical ones.
Similar situation for Brian Hayes, whom the party may require on the ballot paper in May for the European Elections.
Ruairi Quinn would be a fine European Commissioner, and a fair chance as a political pal of likely President Martin Schulz, a fellow Social Democrat. Big plum for FG to give to Labour though, especially as Labour got the AG. It would allow for Gilmore to reshuffle and reward a backbencher or two for not going all Keaveney. However, surely FG would demand in the reshuffle that Labour take a lesser cabinet job in return, allowing for a FGer to be promoted?
The wild card…Lucinda. I know, the conventional rules say no way, but consider the benefits: she’s exceptionally capable, from the right party (an EPP vice president), a true believer, and as a young woman exactly what a new President will want to appoint. And imagine the effect her Dail departure would have on the Rebel Alliance. The who? Exactly. Would show Enda putting the country first too. If he announced her before the reshuffle, I suspect the whingers would keep their mouths shut, for fear of whinging themselves out of a junior minister job. Of course, Lucinda is expecting a baby. Will she take maternity leave, as is her right? Will that matter? Should it?
Finally, there’s Enda himself, as President. I don’t believe it for a minute. Every five years we get this story that the Irish Taoiseach is being begged to take over. It’s bull.