herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

The grey men in suits in cabinet

Dermot Ahern (55) has been the most disappointing of all Brian Cowen's ministers.

While we all expected Dempsey and Cullen to be totally inadequate, Mr Ahern appeared to be cut from better cloth.

However, catastrophes such as blasphemy laws, and the order of an investigation into journalists who highlight lawbreaking politicians, has cast the Dundalk solicitor in a very bad light.

Meath's Noel Dempsey (57) is often referred to as Disaster Dempsey. During the recent big freeze he was sunning himself in Malta and refused to return home early -- winning himself a new moniker, the Minister for Snow. As Minister for Environment between 1997 and 2002 he oversaw two of the most costly projects taken on by the Government.

A plan to provide Limerick city with state-of-the-art drainage went down the sewer after contracts that were suppose to cost €9.57m ended up costing almost €83m.

Mr Dempsey's legacy, though, will be his charge and handling of the M50 toll debacle.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith (53) had been widely tipped for the chop in Tuesday's reshuffle but, instead, Brian Cowen strengthened his portfolio by adding responsibility for the horseracing industry.

The Cavan/Monaghan representative was first elected in 1992 and twice served as a minister of State before being promoted to agriculture.

However, he has made little impact since taking the job -- except occasionally raising the ire of farmers.

Batt O'Keeffe will turn 65 next week.

He was a hugely unpopular Minister for Education but is a close confidant of the Taoiseach.

Teachers will be delighted that his alliance to the leader has prompted his move to the newly named Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

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