Reshuffle blogwatch

The news media have come down on the reshuffle like a ton of bricks – I have been unable to find any comment in the main newspapers that is even neutral, never mind positive. So how about the blogs?

There are some interesting comments on irisheconomy.ie. Both of the comments I am about to cite indicate a view that the reshuffle is really all about internal Fianna Fáil issues, and that it will either lead to internal party dissent or attempt to sidline it. Here is the first, from TCD’s Brian Lucey:

‘For what its worth, I met a FF diehard on the train home this evening, a man who has given time and effort beyond the norm to his party, ran for election and taken the bullet. This is a younger man, extremely well educated, not blindly FF but a genuine believer that they can do the job. He was apoplectic with rage at the lack of thought and effort made. He characterised it as “a death spiral, totally lacking in any competence” .’

And here’s another comment from the same blog, suggesting that it’s all about power play within the cabinet:

‘There is more substance to ths reshuffle than meets the eye. If you go back to the famous day when the unions were shown the door 7 cabinet ministers rebelled against the Taoiseach and sided with Lenihan. these were believed to be Hanifin, Ahern, Cullen, O’Dea, Harney and the two Greens.
Of these 7, Cullen and O’Dea are gone to be replaced by unknown quantities. Hanifin has been shafted. the balance of power in the Cabinet has shifted to the pro Cowen axis. Moroever, ilness will diminish Lenihan’s powers in the months ahead.’

Another theme that runs through the blog (and for that matter, the media) commentary is that the changes display caution and risk-averseness, just when the Taoiseach is rightly pointing out that we need to be courageous, creative and innovative in how we handle our economic problems. This is a point made in several of the blogs hosted by the Irish Times, including this one by Laura Slattery.

A slightly less caustic, if still sceptical, view is expressed by fellow presidential blogger Ciaran O Cathain of Athlone Institute of Technology. He fears that the government approach to education may become disjointed as a result of the reshuffle, but he is keeping an open mind. His suggestion that the higher education issues might be addressed with the appointment of a junior HE minister (which I had also raised) won’t be followed, as we now know.

The twittering community has also been active with micro-comments about the reshuffle – you can see them by going here. It wouldn’t be wholly appropriate for me to quote any of them – many are unprintable – but the overall tone is cynical and negative. I couldn’t find any supportive tweets at all.

What does any of this matter? The purpose of reshuffling a government is to generate a sense of energy, purpose and vision. All governments, even when they are very good, have the capacity to appear jaded to the public when its members have simply been around too long, and the trick is to generate some excitement and a sense of renewal. A ‘tidying-up’ reshuffle is almost always a waste of time. In the case of Ireland right now, the publication a few days ago of the report by the Innovation Taskforce created a backdrop that should have prompted an innovative and innovation-driven reshuffle, and the verdict will be that this opportunity has been missed.

Nevertheless, cynicism and a pessimistic outlook get us nowhere. We have the cabinet we now have, and we have things to be getting on with. It would certainly be my hope that the higher education sector will now quickly establish an effective partnership with the Tánaiste to advance the national agenda for high value renewal, and that we work with Minister Batt O’Keeffe in his new role to ensure that Ireland’s ambition to be a research and development hub is met. The Taoiseach could have sent stronger signals in his decisions; but we have an opportunity to move ahead anyway, and we should not lose momentum.

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5 Comments on “Reshuffle blogwatch”

  1. Jilly Says:

    “We have the cabinet we now have, and we have things to be getting on with.”

    Indeed we do. It does seem perilously close to Rumsfeld’s comment that you go to war with the army you’ve got, however. And we know how well that particular war is going…


    • Wow, Jilly, I don’t think I’ve ever been compared to Donald Rumsfeld before! So who are we all fighting?

      • Jilly Says:

        Yes, who wouldn’t like to be compared to Rumsfeld?!

        But actually I think that it’s Cowen who’s in Rumsfeld’s position: and I suppose it’s the economy that he’s fighting. With about as much success.

  2. belfield Says:

    Perhaps the opportunity is missed because opportunity is almost always missed by a rump administration; that’s part of what characterises the timorous politics of these post-democracy days.

  3. Parks Says:

    If you had to live underwater for 2 years, what would you be and why?


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