Ministers and Misfits

Magill analysis of the current Cabinet and their suitability for their positions.

Michael Noonan (Justice)

Knows absolutely nothing about any of the issues involved and probably got the job because Jim Mitchell couldn't be appointed there again in the light of the commitment to an enquiry into political interference with the Gardai. Noonan is liberal, we are led to believe. FitzGerald thinks highly of him but like almost all his predecessors he is likely to be steamrolled by his Department.


Gemma Hussey (Education)

An appalling choice. If a woman was to go into the Cabinet it should have been a woman with real guts, such as Nuala Fennell. Gemma Hussey, so far as anybody has ever bothered to listen to anything she has ever said on education, is a spender. She, unlike Barry Desmond in Health, is entirely unlikely to take on the vested interests in this area - i.e. the universities and the church.


Frank Cluskey (Trade, Commerce and Tourism)

John O'Connell describes Cluskey when even in the vicinity of an airport as "rigid with excitement". He virtually destroyed the Labour Party by his traipsing around the world to various meaningless conferences while leader of the outfit. Now as the front man for Coras Trachtala he will have a ball. Another appalling choice.


John Boland (Public Service)

Boland has guts and could have made a worthwhile contribution in an area where the talent for dealing with people isn't relevant. He has never uttered a word, so far as anyone is aware, about public service reform, which supposedly is to be his brief now. Incredible.


Liam Kavanagh (Labour)

One of the best ministers of the last Labour Government and quite rightly reappointed to an area he knows a lot about. One of the Department's key advisers was growing tomatoes in his office in the Department during the interegnum of the Fianna Fail Government. There is now, with Kavanagh back in the seat, a real danger that the tomatoes will wither.


Jim Mitchell (Transport, Posts and Telegraphs)

The best Minister for Justice in years. Knows sweet damn all about any of his new responsibilities. A softie and therefore likely to give in to the whinging in RTE for more money.


Paddy O'Toole (Gaeltacht, Fisheries and Forestry)

Although his responsibilities have been multiplied threefold nobody still knows what it is he might do.


Dick Spring (Environment)

Knows nothing about environment. He had very good election campaign in terms of public relations but an analysis of what he actually said at press conferences reveals a lack of acquaintance with most of the critical issues in Irish politics. Nevertheless he has ability and he has an image of integrity. His chief problem is likely to be having started his period of leadership on such a high note he will find it very difficult to maintain such a favourable impression. This is likely to be unfair - as has been the favourable impression he has created so far.


Peter Barry (Foreign Affairs)

No real knowledge of the subject but his general ability should equip him well in dealing with the complex and diverse issues involved. Greatly underestimated because of poor Dail and television performances but he is certain to be a key figure in this Government and should the party get tired of Garret FitzGerald he would be the certain replacement - and a very capable one.


John Bruton (Industry and Energy)

This is the major misplacement of the Government (see accompanying story, He will however be excellent in dealing with the crazy National Development Corporation and is likely to give Whitegate short shift. He has also been given responsibility for Dail reform and if this means anything he will ensure that the workings of the chamber have some relevance to what is actually happening outside. He is also Leader of the House - but nobody knows what that means.


Paddy Cooney (Defence)

He may actually get to like the job, which could be a problem.


Alan Dukes (Finance)

Very able but in spite of his formidable qualifications as an economist he has never really addressed himself - as Bruton did - to the major structural problems in public expenditure and in the public service. Like FitzGerald, there is reason to believe that he believes that there is no real problem with the public finances that a little spending cannot see right.


Barry Desmond (Health and Social Welfare)

He might actually be one the successes of the Government for he seems to have got a hold of the fact that public expenditure is not progressive per se, and this thought might lead him on to deal comprehensively with the rip-offs in the health services perpetrated by the doctors, the pharmacists, the drug companies, and the bureaucrats.