From top: Senan Moloney, Alison O’Connor and Michael O’Regan.

Fearless, rigorous, uncompromising.

From last night’s Frontline on RTE 1:
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Pat Kenny: “Senan, how has this Government done?”

Senan Moloney (Irish Daily Mail): “Well I think it’s started quite luckily really and luck is something that has gone with this Government so far I think. In the first place, thanks to an initial bailout for the Greeks, they got a cut in the interest rate.”

Kenny: “Not skill, luck?”

Moloney: “A lot of luck. And they were unlucky then, paradoxically, when it came to the vote against the Dail inquiries during the autumn. Now that was, that had I think a lot to do with a lot of public distrust for politicians in general, rather than handing them further powers. But there’s been a prolonged honeymoon. A lot of it has to do with those two great politicians who visited earlier and they were Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama of course.”

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Kenny: “But in terms of the way the politicians, the Cabinet, do their jobs, what do you think?”
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Moloney: “I think there’s been a middle-ing performance. I think some ministers are treading water, some have done well. I think Simon [Coveney] on the panel has got a good deal in our fisheries quota. He’s a good performer.”

Kenny:“Who would you throw out of that Cabinet?”

Moloney: “Well, it’s not for me to immediately to pick out a poor performance but you don’t have to look very far to be quite honest. There are people who haven’t made the headlines, who have promised things they haven’t delivered and who’ve yet to shine effectively so. There are some heavyweights and they’re dragging a lot of passengers.”

Kenny: “All right. Alison?”
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Alison O’Connor (Irish Independent): “Listening to some of the earlier comments I’m tempted to say that they’re politicians not magicians. Given what they took over, given the state that we’re in and given that they have only been in power for 12 months…I suppose the other thing that we sometimes forget, and maybe it’s because we couldn’t afford novices, but Fianna Fail have been in power for so long that these particular politicians were, the majority of them, completely new to the job. So I suppose you have to bring in a small element of that to be fair to them. I think they’ve been generally doing OK. They haven’t been doing too badly at all. I think Enda Kenny has been a revelation actually. Although, in a sense, with all of this, you have to put the proviso that it could be five years or more before we actually know whether the decisions they take today, tomorrow or six months ago, exactly how they will pan out and whether they’ve been good for the country.”

Kenny: “You would give them a little space?”

O’Connor: I would give them a little space. I know people will say we can’t afford that and indeed we can’t but, in fairness to them, they are only human and they’re, at the moment, putting in a good effort.

Kenny: “Michael O’Regan?”
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Michael O’Regan (Irish Times): “I think they’ve done reasonably well but a year is a short time to be drawing any definitive conclusions. They started badly in PR terms. I mean the commitment to reduce the number of junior ministers was forgotten about, another banana skin was the breaking of  the salary ceiling for advisers but, overall, they’re showing a level of competence and decisiveness which was absent. Now, bear in mind, they didn’t exactly follow a class act. We saw Mr Martin’s fairly substantial apology at the RDS at the weekend for some of the decisions Fianna Fail made in power.

Kenny:“But, hang on a second, we had a standing ovation for Brian Cowen. Now I’m a bit confused.”

O’Regan: “Logic doesn’t apply Pat at party conferences and certainly at the moment it doesn’t..(laughs)

O’Connor:“And particularly not at the Fianna Fail ones..(laughs)”

O’Regan: “Particularly not at the Fianna Fail conferences...(laughs)”

Kenny: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ but the guy that we’re blaming for all this he gets a standing ovation.”

O’Regan: “That was a gesture towards Mr Cowen who remains, personally, much liked.”

Kenny: “Much liked.”

O’Regan: “Precisely. But this Government will survive or politically die on the economy. And the coming year will show for instance if the jobs initiative is going to work. They did promise you see, during the election campaign, Fine Gael and Labour gave the impression to the electorate that there was a less painful way of doing things than appeared to be the case. Now we know there isn’t and the pain is there.”

Kenny: “But didn’t Labour have a way that was not Frankfurt’s way?”

O’Regan: “They did, precisely…”

Kenny: “..Which was going to work.”

O’Regan: “And that disappeared..they were hardly sitting in their ministerial cars when that idea was quickly forgotten about.”

O’Connor: “I think, reflecting on it over the last day or two in terms of the Government’s being a year in office, isn’t it interesting the whole notion that if we only had a single party government..and I don’t mean this in terms of being in favour of Fine Gael or in favour of Labour or in favour of anyone. But that for the straits that we find ourselves in that perhaps a single party government is what an economy, in the state that we find ourselves in, would be better. Because if you look in terms of the Budget, which is where I think the government I think did fall down because of the bargaining between the two. It’s been said so many times Enda Kenny says ‘we will not raise income tax’ in the Government. Eamon Gilmore comes back and says ‘we will not cut social welfare rates’ and that that’s sort of one-upmanship if you like, and inter-party bargaining. And I think if you look overall at the budget and the things that came out of it, there’s an element of that horse trading. And that wasn’t necessarily in the best interests of the economy or in the interests of an economy that has to have at least two more harsh budgets.”

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