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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 22, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    Rumour, Speculation, hot air.

    Harry McGee

    I’ve just finished a bit of punditing on one of the radio stations, in which I dispensed what knowledge I have (not very much) of what’s going on in Brian Cowen’s mind.

    What we know for certain.

    1. Two new senior ministers. Three new junior ministers.

    2. Some reconfiguration of some departments.

    What we kind of know or half-know.

    1. Greens will get an extra junior ministry. Fianna Fail will then only get one unless Cowen appoints more than two new seniors, or sacks a junior.

    2. Mary Harney to remain in place. Cowen likes her.

    3. Minimal changes for the senior people. Lenihan, Martin, Ahern to stay in position. Coughlan too though she’ll lose some of her portfolio. Question marks over Dempsey and Hanafin. Both in line for some kind of preferment.

    What we don’t know but can guess at…

    1. Cowen is conservative and won’t make wholesale changes

    2. Tony Killeen and Pat Carey the most likely to get the step-up. If he’s feeling very adventurous, Dara Calleary, but he’s considered a bit young.

    3. John Curran a possible Chief Whip if Carey get the nod

    4. Sean Connick and Margaret Conlon in the reckoning for junior minister. Maybe Thomas Byrne and Michael McGrath.

    Cowen never shows his hand. He has tended to go conservative. (See the recent appointments of Seamus Kirk and Maire Geoghegan Quinn.)

    What was it about old dogs and hard tricks?

    • Surely that’s meant to be new tricks? Cos “hard tricks” sound like some people you’d expect to hear about in a Lynda La Plante novel.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      It doesn’t really matter a jot who he appoints because no matter waht position any of them get there isn’t a single Fianna Fáil TD or Senator with the intellect to provide a solution to the problems every one of them played such a role in creating.

      It’s no different to the bishops who took the side of child abusers over their victims – they too have no role to play in whatever solution takes shape and should resign to become a monk to spend the rest of their lives trying to salvage what they can of their souls.

      Name one single FFer who has ever produced a policy document on any issue, name one who has ever taken a lead on any issue of transparency and accountability, name one who has done anything to reform they way politics is done in Ireland – even one? No, didn’t think so.

      So Cowen can changes as many or as few as he likes it doesn’t affect the lack of substance. He is intellectually incapable of making the decisions required to do what the country needs and he is surrounded by people who come from the same cesspit of political DNA that he does – so he gets advice from people who misunderstand the situation as deeply as he does.

      The Greens will get an extra ministry and in the process seal the fate that not one single Green will be returned after the next election. The Greens are now like the religious claiming they did nothing wrong who can’t seem to understand that turning a blind eye to protect colleagues makes them as bad as the colleagues doing the abusing.

      I had a good laugh listening to the radio this evening to hear them asking who actually wrote the FG reform document. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet …. and then when they mentioned being paid … FG is tighter than a fish’s ….

      I predict Cowen will make as few changes as he can get away with – he knows he’s damned no matter what he does anyway but he also knows that even in FF ranks there is no honour among thieves and those who are from his cesspit will stab him in the back in a second so he will factor in the likelihood of making an enemy above all else – ability won’t matter a jot.

      The sad thing is that the longer Cowen clings with the support of the Greens keeping him in power the more lasting damage he does to the country – so far the damage done by Ahern and then Lenihan will be a millstone around the neck of my nephew who is 18 this year for the rest of his life – if not even as far as into the lives of his children when he has them.

      So Harry, when you do your piece on who got what – try not to buy the spin but assess each person in terms of their ability and record to date.

    • Major Alfonso says:

      Christ the word “preferment” gets on my goat. It’s a word that embodies the internal Fianna Fail logic that if you hang around long enough, a nice desk and a good salary are yours. It is deployed by journalists (such as yourself Harry) without much in the way of critical removal. The journalistic rationale, that thus is business done and so it shall be reported, should be re-considered to some degree when one’s writing becomes part of the disffusion and normalisation of such a concept. I’d love if you’d put the term “preferment” in quotation marks to distinguish between the FF attitude and the more general, and meritocratic aspirations for the attributes qualifying a member of the Oireachtas to sit at cabinet, that are held by the voters. It barely makes sense on a civil service culture, from where it has jumped into the party’s political culture.

      How common is the use of the term “preferment” amongst political reporters in other English-speaking climes and how is it used I wonder?

    • Bryan says:

      2. Mary Harney to remain in place. Cowen likes her.
      I’m only a novice at this whole democracy thing, but that’s an incredible observation. If holding an office as important as the minister for health comes down to something as arbitrary as being liked by the guy in charge…I really need to get my hands on ‘How to Win Friends And Influence People’.

    • Harry says:

      Yes Dan, old Dog and new tricks. to Bryan. Cowen likes her. Shortand for belives in her; believes she it doing a good job; trusts her; values her experience. As for the word ‘preferment’, it’s an alternative for promotion or elevation. Nothing more. It’s used a lot in British reporting I know, less here. I didn’t even give it a second thought before using it.


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