Scoring the Cabinet
On taking office, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he would keep a scorecard on ministerial performances and use it in the event of a Cabinet reshuffle. While nothing has been heard of the idea since then, the public has rated Minister for Health James Reilly and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan as the worst performing members of Cabinet in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll. Their satisfaction ratings were less than 20 per cent overall and, even within Fine Gael, majorities were unhappy with them.
Public opinion doesn’t take account of difficulties in implementing reform and it responds negatively to change, disruption and additional charges. Satisfaction ratings are, therefore, crude measurements of effectiveness. Nevertheless, they provide useful information, notably under the heading of possible party leaders who command popular support. One of the striking aspects of this survey is the disconnect that exists between Labour Party supporters and their ministers.
In all cases, Fine Gael supporters rated Labour ministers more highly. Apart from Mr Hogan and Dr Reilly, the minister with most to worry about would appear to be Jimmy Deenihan at Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. His ratings were pretty well balanced but only because 48 per cent on those questioned had no opinion about him.
Ministers who attracted the highest satisfaction ratings were Joan Burton from Social Protection and Michael Noonan from Finance, but their dissatisfaction levels were equally emphatic. Simon Coveney at Agriculture, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar generated net satisfaction scores.
Elsewhere, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Ruairí Quinn at Education and Alan Shatter at Justice performed well. Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore brought up the rear. On the basis of this survey, Labour Party voters are extremely dissatisfied in Government.