A Christian among the Lions: Cannon Under Heavy Fire
Deaglán de Bréadún
Hardly know Ciarán Cannon. He is a junior minister – I looked it up: “Training and Skills”. He was briefly leader of the Progressive Democrats (remember them?) before they wound up and now he’s in Fine Gael.
Anyway, Minister of State Cannon was on RTE’s “Frontline” last night. He was on his own (where was the Cabinet?) There was nobody else who shared his perspective. The audience was mainly composed of public sector workers, most of whom lambasted him and his government over the effects of the early retirement scheme.
No doubt these effects are serious enough. No one would wish to underplay them. There is a counter-argument that, to coin a phrase, “we are where we are” and the public finances urgently need to be put in order.
Cannon got it hot and heavy from the most of those who spoke in the audience. It was like watching a kid in the schoolyard with a crowd ganging-up on him.
Then Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald had a go from the panel. Mary Lou has come on a lot and is now one of the more effective opposion speakers in the Dail. Sinn Fein are having a ball with the cuts and the austerity. Now and then, someone in government timidly and in a quavering voice points to similar exercises being carried out in the North where SF are in government, but by and large the ”Shinners” have free rein and they are making the most of it. Shades of the current government parties when they were in opposition!
At any rate, it eventually came to Cannon’s time to speak on the programme. Where others would have been seriously rattled, he kept his cool. He answered in clinical, logical terms. Then there was another round of lambasting. As individuals, the speakers were rational and composed, for the most part: it was the cumulative effect that was disturbing. But the junior minister still didn’t get rattled under all the Cannonfire.
Can’t say I share Cannon’s perspective or outlook and I don’t really see the need for so many junior ministers, but you have to hand it to the guy. He was a Christian among the lions (maybe that should be the other way around) and he kept his version of the faith.