Cutting the Cabinet
Madam, – Public sector reform should start at the top, with the Government itself.
The Taoiseach should cut the total number of Cabinet Ministers to seven, as part of the reshuffle now forced by events. This would show real top-level commitment to public sector reform, something the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance claim to be committed to.
This does not need a change in the Constitution (Article 28.1), which fixes the size of Government as follows: “The Government shall consist of not less than seven and not more than 15 members who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
Ministerial responsibilities can be recast, with Ministers of State being given more meaningful roles and responsibilities.
Such a concentration of power in fewer people needs to be counter-balanced by new and improved checks and balances on the use of power by Government as the executive (by extending the Freedom of Information Act), and giving more powers and resources to all bodies trying to make the powerful fully account for their action and inaction (eg Oireachtas committees, Ombudsman offices), as well as much improved people management and financial/budget processes within the public sector. – Yours, etc,