Rotating the office of taoiseach


Sir,– Barry Walsh (Letters, March 16th) might well consider the process of constructing a majority in the Dáil to be grubby. But no taoiseach has yet taken the office without haggling, manoeuvring, and bargaining with their own party colleagues or with coalition partners. Still less has anyone thought that the office was ever demeaned for having been won in that way.

It is entirely fanciful that this, or any other taoiseach, would think it beneath their dignity to resume office once they vacated it; if this really were the case, then no self-respecting taoiseach would serve non-consecutive terms.

While Mr Walsh accurately describes how executive authority operates in lame-duck administrations, it is incorrect to apply that analysis to the rotating taoiseach proposal.

All executives have a clear end-date to their term in office, even if it is the date by which the next election must be held. What distinguishes a lame-duck executive is not that its terminal date is known in advance, but, rather, the knowledge that such an administration will never again seek a further term after that date. This is clearly not the case with the current proposal, as each former taoiseach will seek a mandate at the next general election to form an administration in their own right.

Although a rotating taoiseach would be an innovation in Irish politics, (though by no means one that is untested internationally), I cannot bring myself heed the counsel of Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister that “many, many things must be done, but nothing must be done for the first time”.

It is apparent that opposition to this particular innovation is being used as convenient cover for those in both parties who are opposed to the very idea of coalition in the first place. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.