Independent Alliance ministers, from left: Finian McGrath, Denis Naughton and Shane Ross’ Dan Boyle
Shiny new ‘independent’ ministers.
What could go wrong?
Dan Boyle writes:
Words with established meanings like environment and community have been disappeared. New government departments are being constructed without any seeming logic. Fine Gael thinking isn’t always based on logic.
Take Heather Humphrey’s department – the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht – might as well be called the Department of those things we’re not that interested in.
The department now residing in the Customs House is to be known as the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The semantic key is the order in which the department’s elements are listed.
The earlier the listing the more a priority it is seen to be. Of course housing should have such priority but is it also indicative of the short cuts/blind eye turned strategies that have failed so spectacularly in the past?
Then we have the Department of Climate Change, Energy and Natural Resources. This is an imported UK idea, as many Fine Gael ‘innovations’ tend to be. In operating this department will be in constant conflict with itself.
Action on climate change means reducing fossil fuel dependency. This will be done in a department also tasked with encouraging fossil fuel extraction.
This contradiction may always have been part of our national energy policy, but why make it even more marked?
That said I like Denis Naughton. He is one of the more competent of the new ministers. I’m hoping he doesn’t see himself as the Minister for Wind Turbine Worriers and Turf Cutters.
It’s the new Independent ministers who will probably create most of what passes for excitement from this government.
How they make the passage from the freedom of opposition to the circumspection of government, is something I’m greatly looking forward to.It has only taken a couple of days for our new Minister for Toll Roads to compromise himself.
Fine Gael has had some experience of being in government with independents. This is where the carving up of government departments in order to placate has come from.
The 1948-51 government had two cabinet positions a Minister for Agriculture and a Minister for Lands.
James Dillon was then the ‘independent’. He had been in Fine Gael and would later lead them.
The other ‘independent’ in that government was Oliver J Flanagan, (father of Charlie) who was a Minister of State equivalent then known as a Parliamentary Secretary. He too would soon become a full blooded Fine Gaeler.
Maybe Enda Kenny is hoping that similar osmosis can happen in this government? Two of three ‘independent’ cabinet ministers were formerly in Fine Gael.
Reconversion wouldn’t be all that difficult, or that much of a surprise.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle