By Patrick Brogan
As expected, as Leo Varadkar took over the office of the Taoiseach and he shook up his cabinet. Some of this repositioning is worrying in both the long and short-term.
Firstly, the long-term issue. The number of women in this Government is puzzling. Now, I’m not a big fan of quotas for quota’s sake, but four female ministers is a worrying trend. It must be said that it has always been difficult for women to get into Irish politics and this long predates Varadkar, but these moves show no commitment to changing this. Mary Mitchell O’Connor got a demotion and there will be a new male Attorney General. Surely there are capable women out there that the Taoiseach could bring in to freshen things up. Historically, this country has treated women poorly and it is time to address this. Changing a predominately male led political culture would go an enormous way to doing this.
We lag way behind our Nordic neighbours in this regard. Other countries have shown it is a cultural issue rather than a financial one. Countries like Rwanda, Bolivia, Cuba and the Seychelles all either have more female representation of women in Government or are very close to parity. This culture needs to be changed.
Secondly, there is Britain leaving the EU. While a coalition containing the DUP may mean a “softer Brexit”, it is still a sticky situation none-the-less. What is the point of taking Charlie Flanagan out of his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs? He has a built up a few years of experience in this role. What’s the point of removing him at such a sensitive time?
This move also puts Simon Coveney in a bad light. His statements about being dedicated to solving the housing crisis now appear to be a lie. He gives off the appearance of a man jumping ship when the challenge got too much for him. In a previous article, I said Coveney was very competent, but ultimately out for himself. I didn’t expect to be proven correct so soon.
If you’re a regular reader of this, you know how I feel about Leo Varadkar. Again, he is out for himself, but I feel he is a lot less competent than Coveney. I predicted he would lead this country down a very narrow, cut-back driven path that will exclude vast sections of society. It has already started with women. How low will he go?
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