If elected representatives were less invested in their public image or retweets and more focussed on their departments I think would be achieving better results in our health system, public transport, and social housing.
I also wonder would we be able to create a better functioning government if politicians were more devoted to national causes. With this in mind I’ve created the dream team cabinet for 2020, filled with the best politicians available to the Dail, based on a desire to create a more organised and fairer Ireland.
Minister for Defence – Mick Barry
The biggest question any Minister for Defence should ask themselves is if our actions compromise our neutrality. Our increased involvement in “defence” missions should be an issue for national debate and there needs to be further discussion on the future direction of PESCO. Ireland’s decision to act as a neutral country in times of conflict is born out of our scarred history with an imperial power who to this day makes a profit in trading arms.
In recent years our Defence Force personnel have spoke out about the poor conditions of some military barracks and we’ve also seen the tragic cases of homelessness post service. Mick Barry is one of the only voices in the Dail fighting for better conditions for the Irish Defence Forces. The Cork TD wants to grant trade union rights for Defence Force personnel to allow Union representatives to take issues to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and for individual members to take grievances to a Rights Commissioner.
Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade – Simon Coveney
A second TD from Cork who truly deserves a position in this dream team government is Simon Coveney, who might be better known in the UK as Ireland’s Brexit Minister. Simon has represented Irish interests in the Brexit debate across the English media and it would be hard to imagine anyone doing a better job at breaking down the issues and explaining Irish interests. One of the big challenges for next year will be restoring power in Northern Ireland, to ensure peace and ease of trade. Internationally Simon has condemned the illegal Israeli settlement of Palestinian territory and supports a two-state solution to the conflict.
Minister for Finance – Pearse Doherty
After exposing the insurance industry it’s hard to imagine a better Minister for Finance than Pearse Doherty. Actions like this show that he has ordinary people in mind, he is willing to take on fraudulent industry to better the lives of working people, which is the kind of character you want in charge of the country’s finances. As Sinn Fein spokesperson for Finance he has advocated for low and middle income families; he opposes the implementation of carbon taxes on ordinary households. Struggling families cannot easily switch to low carbon lifestyles and Pearse believes that the big polluters, the wealthy, and corporate Ireland need to pay their fair share in Carbon Tax.
Minister for Justice – Ruth Coppinger
I can’t say that this position has ever been in as much controversy as in the last few years but Charlie Flanagan supporting a law against people videoing or photographing Garda on duty would make you question if transparency and fair rule of law are values held by this department. Obviously our police force must be supported but our rights must also be protected. We also need to accept criticism of the Gardai without losing faith in them or forget about all the difficulties they face. Ruth Coppinger has been a supporter of individual rights and has also spoken out against certain actions of the Gardai, in particular the political arrests of the jobstown protestors. If we acknowledge improvement is required then we should have a reformist in charge of the department, instead of putting people at the head that are easily wagged by the tail.
Minister for Health – Roisin Shortall
Roisin Shortall is probably one of the most qualified people in the Dail for this position. Roisin resigned as Minister of State for Health in 2012 over a disagreement on the expansion of primary care centres, suggesting decisions should be made in the public interest and not driven by “other concerns”. In more recent times Roisin has been critical of Simon Harris’s decision to allow our HSE director to take on a paid role on the board of a US medical supplies company, stating that the appointment “smacks of golden circles in our health system”.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government – Eoin O Broin
Again there is no one more qualified for this position than Eoin O’Broin, who has written the book on public housing. Eoin argues for retention of state owned housing and wants to build more council estates to give young people a foothold in society. Having a home is essential for families and community life in Ireland. The current model choked supply in order to increase house prices which invited foreign investors to speculate on our housing market. Allowing international investors open access to the Irish housing market is the same as giving poachers a license to the Serengeti, it is damaging to the long term sustainability of the environment.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment – James Lawless & Richard Boyd Barrett
I’m not sure why these departments are together given the significance of the climate emergency and the modern era of communications. For the 2020 Dream Team I’d split this department in two. James Lawless is a tailored fit for communications. As Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on Technology he has been vocal on the use of social media by political parties and calls for more legislation around political advertising on Facebok and Twitter. This is a politician who understands the impact the likes of Cambridge Analytica can have on democratic elections.
You’d imagine someone in the Green Party would be well positioned for the role on Climate Action and Environment but their support of carbon taxes on the individual household is an undesirable feature of austerity politics. I also find it embarrassing that the Greens fail to live by the sword of their party principles, it was a complete failing of the party to use plastic election posters in recent elections, if the Green party can’t imagine a better solution then they are no different than their opponents. With that in mind Richard Boyd Barrett is a prime candidate. In 2013 Richard tried to stop the sale of our national forests to a Chinese logging company and believes that afforestation is the key to meeting our responsibilities on climate change.
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – Donnchadh O Laoghaire
I don’t believe that you need to speak Gaelic to be Irish but I strongly agree with supporting the Irish language, showcasing our culture, and recording our heritage. I think to fairly represent the Gaelic speakers of this land it should be essential to have a good grasp of the Irish language and to fill the role as head of this department a love of our Gaelic ancestry should be an outstanding feature of the person’s character. With this sad our third Cork based TD is the obvious head of this department in this dream team cabinet. Donnchadh is a fluent Gaeilgeoir and his involvement in the GAA is an example of his love of Irish culture. He previously served as chairperson of the Arts, Culture and Languages committee on Cork County Council.
Minister for Education – Paul Murphy
Many of the problems we face in elections is in reaching out to voters, things have a tendency to remain the same because the issues are not clearly debated at the doorstep. There are also inherent biases to reject change because of belief systems that are thought in our education system. That’s why Paul Murphy would be a great choice for this department, the most outspoken individual on system change and the nationalisation of services. He also believes in separating church and state which would put an end to the mini cults around the country which influence the way children are educated. Problems we are facing include access to third level education and choice of non denominational schools.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine – Michael Fitzmaurice
Elected on a platform of defending rural Ireland and the agricultural industry Michael Fitzmaurice is probably the strongest voices in the Dail when it comes to representing the family farm in Ireland. Michael supports the continuation of turf cutting for private use, one off housing for the rural community, and the reformation of CAP payments. Unlike other rural TDs Michael supported the recent farmers protests and calls for an end to the current scenario where for every €10 of beef bought off shelves, the farmer takes €2, the processor gets €2.90, and the supermarket gets €5.10.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport – Eamon Ryan
Transport is a huge issue for Ireland, one thing I’d love to see in this country is the development of our ports. I think we have the potential to be a bigger trading dock for Europe. In the mean time getting from A to B can be a challenge if you don’t have your own car, and if you do there is a big question around what type of fuel you should use. A politician that knows a lot about transport is Eamon Ryan who wants to see far more investment in public transport and cycling lanes. Eamon has called for an end to bloodsports and wants to divert government money from greyhound racing into other areas such as national parks, which would be good for tourism and public recreation.
Minister for Rural and Community Development – Michael Healy Rae
There are some rural TDs that probably mean well but fail to speak ethically on key issues, and some might be known for putting their own parish well ahead of the national interest. Michael Healy Rae may well fall into this category sometimes, and I’m not sure he’d be in charge of drink driving laws, but as far as protecting rural Ireland goes there is no politician that would do as much to keep a post office open in small villages like Easkey Co Sligo or Clogheen in Co Tipperary. For many he is a social worker as well as a politician, to overcome hospital waiting lists in the south west of Ireland he organises a bus to Belfast so people needing hip & knee replacements, cataract surgery, or orthopaedic surgery can take advantage of the Cross Border Healthcare Directive. Although he might not align well with other areas of the dream team he would do well if given funding to back some more initiatives to protect living in rural Ireland.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – Catherine Connolly
Former Mayor of Galway Catherine Connolly has proved to be a voice for some of the most tragic cases of abuse in Ireland. She has spoke out against changes in the government’s redress scheme for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries and criticised the Taoiseach for failing to publish a report of the rape of three young children in foster care. With a continued spotlight on abuse cases in Ireland and the growing concerns about childcare standards in Ireland Catherine Connolly would be the perfect TD to continue asking hard questions in this area.
Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation – John Brady
John Brady is particularly concerned with industry following the announcement of 150 job losses in Rondo Foods in Arklow. A progressive TD who has supported a Direct Provision centre in Wicklow town, he has recently called for the introduction of a living wage of €12.30 per hour to meet the rising costs in living, which highlights his fight for improvements in workers’ pay and conditions. John is the Sinn Fein spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection.
Picture by @noelmurphy_art