Thursday, May 08, 2008
Thursday Thoughts: Meet the new boss...
Unsurprisingly I'm not too enamoured with the new man seeing as I voted for the opposition at last year's election. I'm not quite sure what the next few years will bring under Cowen. It's interesting that much like our neighbours across the sea, a charismatic politician who survived many elections has been replaced by someone who appears quite bereft of personality but yet claims to be good with the books. Time will tell but if he matches his British counterpart's performance as Prime Minister, then Ireland's opposition will have some good times to look forward to.
It's not easy to predict how Brian Cowen will compare to Bertie Ahern in the top job, besides reviving the fortunes of the scraggly-haired look, but I figured I'd take a look at some of the main issues facing Brian Cowen and speculate as to how well he will do compared to his predecessor.
Well we're all aware of this global economic slump at the present time and it will be a difficult beginning for Cowen. Ahern walked into the job with the economy in pretty good shape which he was able to build upon. Brian Lenihan is now the Finance Minister in Cowen's cabinet and it will be a big test for him. Difficult one to judge this, but I suspect Cowen will have a tougher time than Ahern.
Surely this government's greatest failing. Harney remains the Health Minister and it could be argued that this is an area for the PDs to sort out but I would say that everyone needs to take responsibility. I am inclined to think little will change with Harney at the helm. I think this will be a problem for Cowen.
Again I think this government could have done, and should do, more to combat the criminal elements in the country. Dermot Ahern has been named the new Minister for Justice and I would hope that he and Cowen together will take measures to make the country safer for people, however I worry that all we'll get from Dermot Ahern is excuses. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that improvements will be made.
I thought Mary Hanafin was poor in her position of Minister for Education and Science. I was not surprised therefore to see her replaced in the role. Batt O'Keefe now takes over and I suspect he and Cowen will oversee an improved education system from previous administrations.
With Dermot Ahern now Justice Minister, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs is Micheál Martin. I worry about this one. I'm not a fan of Mr Martin and I think he could prove a liability. Much of his work will be focused on Ireland's north and I suspect Cowen will take a very hands-on approach to NI. I don't see Cowen doing as well with NI as Ahern did, and I wonder if Cowen and Martin could effectively deal with any issues that arise for the North in the way Bertie and Dermot Ahern were able to previously.
Overall I think there is major scope for improvement for this new cabinet but the real test undoubtedly will be how Cowen and co handle the economy. The handling of the economy has pretty much kept them in power and if things go awry, it will be interesting to see how Cowen et al. cope.
Ahern managed to deal with his troubles remarkably well and his reputation as the 'Teflon Taoiseach' was well justified. It will be most interesting to see whether Cowen will duplicate this ability that Ahern possessed. My gut feeling is that he will not.
© 2008 United Irelander.