First Junior Minister Resigns

Willie Penrose TD and Minister of State at Department of Environment, Community & Local Government with responsibility for Housing & Planning has resigned from the Cabinet and from the Labour Party. Penrose was a Super Junior Minister meaning he was entitled to attend all Cabinet meetings.

He has resigned over the issue of the closure of Columb Barracks in Mullingar which is within his constituency.

He has issued this statement (from


It was regret that I tendered my resignation as Minister of State at the Dept of the Environment today.

Over recent weeks and months, I had made my clear unstinting opposition to proposals to close Columb Barracks in Mullingar, so arising from a decision that was made at cabinet today, I had no alternative but to take this course of action.

I fully appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made by the Govt if we are to get out of the economic mess in which we have found ourselves, but I was not prepared to stand over a decision that was not backed up by the facts and figures.

In the context of collective cabinet responsibility, and given my vociferous opposition to this proposal, I could not continue in Govt, and so have tendered my resignation to the Tanaiste, the Taoiseach and the Labour Whip.

I understand and appreciate that significant efforts were made by my Labour colleagues in Govt, who fully understood the depths of my feelings in this regard, to resolve this matter, but to no avail.

While I will no longer hold the Labour whip, I will continue to serve the people of Longford Westmeath as an active and vocal public representative.

While this will not make much of an difference to Government numbers, it may be a wake up call to Labour Ministers that at the end of the day its their constituencies that matter and with €3.8bn worth of cuts to come, it will be a hard time for them at home.

New Cabinet: Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who hasn’t Moved?

Yesterday I posted about the two free poistions on Cabinet, well none of the Junior Ministers I mentioned moved up. Tom Kitt did move back to the backbenches though! Typical, I mention a prediction on this site and the opposite happens!

The new Ministers are Batt O’Keefe, TD for Cork South West, who becomes Minister for Education, he previously served as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal. The other is Brendan Smith TD for Cavan-Monaghan, who becomes Agriculture Minister having been Minister of State at the Department of Children since 2007.

Mary Coughlan moves from Agriculture to Enterprise, Trade and Emplyoment as well as becoming Tánaiste. She is seen as a key Biffo ally. She is the second female Tánaiste in the history of the state. The first being Mary Harney who in 1997 held these two exact posts in cabinet.

Brian Lenihan becomes Finance Minister, arguably the most powerful post in the land. He was previously the MInister for Justice. Another Biffo ally. Recently brough up to full cabinet after the last General Election, he was previously the ‘super’ junior Minister for Children. A promotion was in offing, it was down between him and Coughlan for this post with Martin being an outside bet

Dermot Ahern moves from Foreign Affairs to Justice. This is an interesting move, but I dont think we will see Civil Unions any faster under this Ahern. He proved to be an excellent Foreign Affairs Minister, but Justice should be an interesting challenge for the Soliciter.

Martin Cullen gets Arts, Sport & Tourism have previously serving as Social & Family Affairs. Cullen is a former PD’er, and has served in a number of cabinet positions since 1997.

Mary Hanafin moves from Education to Social & Family Affairs. Hanafin got a lot of stick for not supporting ABA education for children with Autism, will she do better here?

Mícheál Martin moves from Enterprise to Foreign Affairs. Another surprise move for the Minister most remembered for the Smoking ban. An interesting poistion, the question is wil the foreign diplomats understand his Cork accent when he gets annoyed.

Pat Carey becomes government chief whip, this is a promotion from the back benches. He was serving as Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (with special responsibility for Drugs Strategy and Community Affairs).

Noel Dempsey (Transport), Éamon Ó Cuív (Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs), Willie O’Dea (Defence), Mary Harney (Health), John Gormley (Environment, Heritage & Local Government) and Eamon Ryan (Communications, Energy & Natural Resources ) all stay in situ. Which is a pity has Harney should have gone.

So what do ye think of the new cabinet?

Two Free Places on The Cabinet, But Who Will Get The Nod?

This first appeared on the Political Gay blog over on GayCork

So Seamus Brennan has told BIFFO that he will not serve in the next Cabinet due to illness. So who will get the nod from Cowen?

The odds are on one of the Junior Ministers in my opinon.

So who could come up?

Conor Lenihan, yes he is related to Brian, he could be brought up to the cabinet, he is currently Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (with special responsibility for Integration Policy). He is a noted politician on the rise, but the “kebab” comment could hold him back.

Seán Haughey could also get in. He is curently Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (with special responsibility for Lifelong Learning, Youth Work and School Transport). He is Charlie’s son, so that could be a hinderance and I think BIFFO will want a break from people associated with corruption, even it is was his father.

Dick Roche, who is currently Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (with special responsibility for European Affairs), could be re-appointed to the Cabinet. He was Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, but his last act as Minister there, allowing the work to go ahead at Tara, might hold him back.

Tom Kitt, the Government Chief Whip, Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and Minister of State at the Department of Defence, could also get the nod. He obviously was involved in getting Beverly back in party and returning Ned O’Keeffe to the party.

Of course BIFFO might ignore these completely and pick someone from the Back Benches.

I dont see the Greens moving anywhere, and Harney for the good of the PD’s should go but I doubt she will.

I will hopefully post tonight on the new cabinet. Otherwise you will have to wait till tomorrow!

The Next Cabinet

I found this on diarmydotnet via PoliticsinIreland. It is an interesting post on what the cabinet could like like after May 6th. I have reproduced it below.

Taoiseach: Brian Cowen
Tánaiste: Brian Lenihan

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food: Billy Kelliher
Minister for Arts, Sports & Tourism: Trevor Sargent (Greens)
Minister for Communications & Technology: Conor Lenihan (New Portfolio)
Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs: Eamon Ó Cuív
Minister for Defence: Willie O’Dea
Minister for Education & Science: Mary Hanifin
Minister for Energy & Natural Resources: Eamonn Ryan (Greens)
Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment: Micheál Martin
Minister for the Environment & Local Government: John Gormley (Greens)
Minister for Finance: Brian Lenihan
Minister for Foreign Affairs: Dermot Ahern
Minister for Heritage & Culture: Seán Haughey (New Potfolio)
Minister for Health & Children: Dr. James Reilly (Poached from Fine Gael)
Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform: Mary Couglan
Minister for Social & Family Affairs: Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher
Minister for Transport & the Marine: Noel Dempsey

I agree with Diarmy that Séamus Brennan, Mary Harney and Martin Cullen will all lose their cabinet poistions, but may get Junior Postings. I very much doubt the Dr Reilly will cross the floor to take up health, so someone else will have to take the poision chalice. One other issue is the number of Portfolio’s the constitution states thats “The Government shall consist of not less than seven and not more than fifteen members” Article 28.1, this Cabinet has 16 excluding the Taoisheach.