Enda, Joan and the new Cabinet are politely asked to move a little to the left
The long-awaited reshuffle brings just the barest structural alterations
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton at the first Cabinet meeting of newly appointed Ministers yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson
In the State Reception Room in Áras an Uachtaráin, an insightful photographer made a telling request.
“Could you all move a little to the left?”
And in deference to him – and a shift in Government policy – the ranks of the reshuffled sidled a little closer to the social side of recovery.
Joan Burton will claim the credit for that.
Enda Kenny, meanwhile, was about to announce a radical plan for the way forward. “We will roll out a four-point plan to make work pay.” Where did we hear that before?
In a feverish day of rumour and speculation in Leinster House, everyone waited for the appearance of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste’s new frontbench line-up. After weeks of hype, it turned out to be much ado about not a lot.
When Enda Kenny finally unveiled his long awaited “new Cabinet” it looked suspiciously like the old one after a reconditioning visit to the French polishers.
It had been freshened up, with just the barest structural alteration and a rearrangement of the original shelving.
A touch of woodworm saw Jimmy Deenihan cut out and replaced by Paschal Donohoe, Phil Hogan was removed for display in the European glass-case and the unknown Heather Humphreys was slotted in seamlessly with the existing old wood.
Labour refurbishmentJoan Burton did a much more thorough job on her side. Brendan Howlin was kept for continuity, but Eamon Gilmore, Ruairí Quinn and Pat Rabbitte dumped. Pat took considerable exception to this.
Young Ged is a special added feature known as a “Super Junior”, which means he is part of the Cabinet but does not have voting rights. In an homage to the classic 1980s cartoon series, he shall henceforth be known as “SuperGed.”
Simon Coveney, who got Agriculture and Defence, was immediately christened the Minister for Arms and Farms.
The big loser in this cosmetic enhancement of the same old lump of furniture was Rabbitte.
Jimmy Deenihan was given a consolation package of a junior ministry with responsibility for the diaspora – a passport to travel the world for Ireland.
He still looked gutted.
The next time Enda goes cycling around the Ring of Kerry for him he might get a few more punctures than he bargained for.
The departing minister for communications did not want to go. But Burton, his new boss, cut him loose with clinical precision. In a memorable post-parting radio interview, the injured Rabbitte blamed “age and chemistry” as the reason for his dismissal.
The Tánaiste (slightly older than Rabbitte) reportedly told him it was “time to make way for the Generation of 2011”.