Country and Western Alliance 2009?
Deaglán de Bréadún
A certain wag who worked on this newspaper some years back used to have great fun at the expense of aspirants for jobs and promotions that appeared “on the board”. His favourite witticism was to tell one or other of the hopefuls: “Your name is being linked to the job – people are saying ‘Joe Bloggs hasn’t a chance of getting that one’.” Oh the cruelty of it! But it was very funny and the victim usually laughed as well.
Tá Máire réidh!
The poet and critic Anthony Cronin has a phrase, “the pornography of the job” and, for whatever reason, impending appointments get the political class in this country going like nothing else does.
The quote that “politics is about jobs” is attributed to David (now Lord) Trimble. He may well be right. The whole purpose of going into politics is to get things done and the best way to get things done is to become a government minister, surely?
The latest job speculation concerns, of course, the appointment as our next European Commissioner. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s name is being “linked” with it, but in a positive way.
Commission President Barroso wants the member-states to nominate women and it appears that, if they do, they will get a better portfolio than would otherwise be the case.
This is seen as very helpful to the chances of “MGQ”. She and Brian Cowen go back a long way politically, since they were both members of the informal and so-called “Country and Western Alliance” which supported Albert Reynolds in his successful campaign to become Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach in the early 1990s.
But people who should be in the know say that Máire and Brian are not that close at all. Yes there is no other woman on the horizon who is seen as having a strong chance, except possibly the Irish Commission official Catherine Day.
Pat Cox has a strong claim as former president of the European Parliament and one of the leaders of the successful pro-Lisbon Treaty campaign. Eoin Ryan lost his seat in the Parliament and is also available to serve: he is well-liked and said to be close to the Taoiseach. Former Taoiseach John Bruton has also been mentioned although he has been tipping his cap for presidency of the European Council as well (wonder will he go for the Áras?)
Then there’s Mary Harney, but her departure would weaken the Government’s position in the Dáil and there would also be a very difficult by-election as a result. Highly-respected Attorney General Paul Gallagher has been mentioned (David Byrne, a previous AG was appointed to the job a few years ago, remember.)
But it seems that, willy-nilly, MGQ it is. Although last time I checked, I was told the Taoiseach had yet to make up his mind. I recall that, on a previous occasion, she was passed over in favour of Padraig Flynn, partly because, it was said, FF’s then-coalition partners, An Lucht Oibre (Labour to youse Anglophones), wanted rid of him.
Although she has been off the scene as a member of the EU Court of Auditors, she was an able minister who was very articulate in both official languages. Curiously, I have not heard any feminist spokespersons speaking out on the subject and insisting that it should be a woman. Why so quiet, Sisters?