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Friday 28 November 2014

The Clongowes (and other top schools) boys back in charge

They'VE waited 79 years for this and, boy, are they enjoying it. The Clongowes Boys took over the country again this week.

You can tell a lot about a country by looking at where its leaders were educated.

On the last really big changeover day in Irish politics, in 1932, it was noted that the Clongowes Boys moved out and the CBS boys took over.

This week the Clongowes Boys were anxiously moving back in.

It is not entirely true.

Just two new ministers are actually from Clongowes (Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton and Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney).

But throw in the other fee-paying schools and you have a majority of the Cabinet, eight fee payers (including scholarship boy Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) as against the seven, mainly Labour, free-schoolers.

The free-schooled minister is now largely a rural animal.

St Gerald's De La Salle College in Castlebar provided us with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the most powerful politician in the country.

Most of his non-Dublin Cabinet colleagues are also the product of free schools.



generations

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan went to St Michael's in Listowel, Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance, to St Patrick's in Glin and Minister Pat Rabbitte to St Colman's in Claremorris.

Super junior minister Willie Penrose went to St Mary's CBS in Mullingar while Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin went to Wexford CBS.

Just one Dubliner, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton went to a free school -- Ms Burton attended Stanhope Street.

King's Hospital in Palmers-town has got its first Cabinet post ever in the form of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadker.

Its previous parliamentarian was a House of Commons member four generations ago.

Other Dubs come from Blackrock College (Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn), High School (Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter), Sion Hill (Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald) and Clongowes (Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton) which is also the alma mater of Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney.

The Tanaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore went to Garbally College in Ballinasloe and Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan went to St Kieran's, Kilkenny. Roscrea Mount St Joseph, which produced three members of the last Coalition Cabinet as well as the former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, is out of the Cabinet for the first time in three decades.

Castleknock, which had three members of the 1973-7 Coalition including the Taoiseach, has none this time round.

As for the 1932 changeover, it was only partially true.

Three of the 1927-32 Cabinet were from Clongowes, but the outgoing Taoiseach (Cosgrave) was one of two CBS boys in the Cabinet while the incoming Taoiseach (Dev) was from Rockwell and announced another privately educated minister to his Cabinet as well as eight CBS boys and two from Padraig Pearse's college, St Enda's.

The big change in education was in the civil service.

Clongowes commanded more than half the departmental secretary roles in 1932. Over the coming years it was here that the CBS boys moved in, notably Ken Whittaker, the man who transformed the economy.

As for the girls? Their day didn't come for the first 90 years of the history of the State.

So they moved into Clongowes.

Smart move.

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