For three years Enda Kenny has run a tight ship as Taoiseach (Prime Minister), but suddenly he appears to be taking on water.
His latest cabinet reshuffle has grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons after he failed to appoint a single woman among his nine appointees as ministers of state, popularly known as junior ministers. In contrast, Labour Party leader Joan Burton nominted two women in her group of six.
He also appointed two ministers with responsibility for the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas) neither of whom can speak the language which left much head-scratching.
As regards the women issue, there were lots of “angry birds” as Irish Times columnist Miriam Lord cleverly dubbed them. Five of them spoke out at a parliamentary party general meeting on Wednesday evening.
Senator Catherine Noone accused Fine Gael and the Taoiseach of “talking the talk, but not walking the walk.” TD Regina Doherty told the meeting that it was “very disappointing and very disheartening” that women had been ignored.
"Angry birds" in full flight is the last thing Kenny needed and the oversight seems very clumsy.
In the Dail (parliament) meanwhile, Sinn Fein had fun in the sun with the hapless new Gaeltacht minister Joe McHugh, who only has a smattering of Irish abd who was forced to read from set texts in Irish with clearly no clue what he was saying when asked to respond to their questions.
It was little short of a Monty Python sketch.
With protesters outside slamming the government for disrespecting the Irish language, Taoiseach Kenny was forced to defend his embattled colleague, stating that he would be sent on a refresher course and would be up to speed by the fall.
All in all, since the government lost ground heavily in the European and Irish local elections, Kenny and his cabinet seem far less assured and have made seemingly basic errors, such as not checking out whether their Gaeltacht spokesman spoke Irish or that gender equality in some form was needed.
When governments lose their way it is difficult to right the ship. Whether Kenny can do so remains a question.
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