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Ministerial Qualifications - do they need any?!


Joopface

Active member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
108
I had a little time on my hands this morning, so I decided to take a quick look at the biggest three parties' front benches. It's one of the quirks of our system that we elect people to office locally, and individuals are then selected to serve nationally as ministers. I wondered what qualified the people currently doing the jobs to be so selected, as well as those who would want to take over following an election.

Many of the ministers, and would-be ministers have little to no 'outside world' experience. Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, essentially our choice for next Taoiseach, have both been in the Dail since they're in long trousers. And, as is well known, there is a disproportionate number of teachers.
The best qualified for the job they want looks to be Richard Bruton, at least on paper.

Doesn't this list serve as a fairly strong argument for a reform in how ministerial appointments are made? The pool we're choosing from is the same bunch of local-issue politicians, and dynastic family career politicians. It reinforces the 'they're all the same' argument. Should the Taoseach be able to appoint ministers from outside the Oireachtas to take portfolios to which they could add value? Business leaders, international figures etc. I know the Seanad appointments were probably originally intended for this purpose, but has this actually happened in recent memory?

Fianna Fail
Brian Cowen - Taoiseach - Qualified solicitor, TD since age 24
Brian Lenihan- Minister for Finance - Barrister
Batt O'Keeffe - Minsiter for Enterprise Trade and (now) Innovation - any help here? 40 odd when first elected
Mary Coughlan - Minister for Education - Social worker but TD since age 21, so not for long
Mary Harney - Minister for Health - Secondary school teacher, appointed to Seanad at age 24
Micheal Martin - Minister for Foreign Affairs - Secondary School Teacher

Fine Gael

Enda Kenny - Leader of Opposition- Primary School Teacher, TD since early 20s
Richard Bruton- Shadow Finance Minister - Oxford MPhil in Economics, worked at ESRI and 2 large private sector companies
Leo Varadkar - Shadow Enterprise, Trade and Employment - qualfied Medical Doctor, in Dail since age 25/26
Brian Hayes - Shadow Education - Secondary School Teacher, TD since age 28
James Reilly - Shadow Health - qualified Medical Doctor, former president Irish Medical Organisation (essentially, Doctor's union)
Billy Timmins - Shadow Foreign Affairs- army career, including UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon and Cyprus

Labour
Eamon Gilmore - Leader of Labour Party - not sure of history here? I know he was 30-odd when first elected to Dail
Joan Burton - Finance Spokesman - Chartered Accountant, lecturer
Willie Penrose - Enterprise,Trade and Employment - Barrister
Ruairi Quinn - Education - Architecht
Jan O'Sullivan - Health - Montessori teacher
Michael D. Higgins - Foreign Affairs - Sociology and Political Science University Lecturer
 

physicist

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
6,274
I had a little time on my hands this morning, so I decided to take a quick look at the biggest three parties' front benches. It's one of the quirks of our system that we elect people to office locally, and individuals are then selected to serve nationally as ministers. I wondered what qualified the people currently doing the jobs to be so selected, as well as those who would want to take over following an election.

Many of the ministers, and would-be ministers have little to no 'outside world' experience. Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, essentially our choice for next Taoiseach, have both been in the Dail since they're in long trousers. And, as is well known, there is a disproportionate number of teachers.
The best qualified for the job they want looks to be Richard Bruton, at least on paper.

Doesn't this list serve as a fairly strong argument for a reform in how ministerial appointments are made? The pool we're choosing from is the same bunch of local-issue politicians, and dynastic family career politicians. It reinforces the 'they're all the same' argument. Should the Taoseach be able to appoint ministers from outside the Oireachtas to take portfolios to which they could add value? Business leaders, international figures etc. I know the Seanad appointments were probably originally intended for this purpose, but has this actually happened in recent memory?

Fianna Fail
Brian Cowen - Taoiseach - Qualified solicitor, TD since age 24
Brian Lenihan- Minister for Finance - Barrister
Batt O'Keeffe - Minsiter for Enterprise Trade and (now) Innovation - any help here? 40 odd when first elected
Mary Coughlan - Minister for Education - Social worker but TD since age 21, so not for long
Mary Harney - Minister for Health - Secondary school teacher, appointed to Seanad at age 24
Micheal Martin - Minister for Foreign Affairs - Secondary School Teacher

Fine Gael
Enda Kenny - Leader of Opposition- Primary School Teacher, TD since early 20s
Richard Bruton- Shadow Finance Minister - Oxford MPhil in Economics, worked at ESRI and 2 large private sector companies
Leo Varadkar - Shadow Enterprise, Trade and Employment - qualfied Medical Doctor, in Dail since age 25/26
Brian Hayes - Shadow Education - Secondary School Teacher, TD since age 28
James Reilly - Shadow Health - qualified Medical Doctor, former president Irish Medical Organisation (essentially, Doctor's union)
Billy Timmins - Shadow Foreign Affairs- army career, including UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon and Cyprus

Labour
Eamon Gilmore - Leader of Labour Party - not sure of history here? I know he was 30-odd when first elected to Dail
Joan Burton - Finance Spokesman - Chartered Accountant, lecturer
Willie Penrose - Enterprise,Trade and Employment - Barrister
Ruairi Quinn - Education - Architecht
Jan O'Sullivan - Health - Montessori teacher
Michael D. Higgins - Foreign Affairs - Sociology and Political Science University Lecturer
I look at Fine Gael's front bench and see a Doctor for Health, a Soldier for Foreign Affairs, and Economist for Finance, a Teacher for Education and best of all a Primary School Teacher in charge of government ... seems almost qualified enough. :lol:

All I know about Gilmore is that he was a leader of trade unions in his early days.
 

goosebump

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
4,953
The best qualified for the job they want looks to be Richard Bruton, at least on paper.
Doesn't always follow. Bruton has the dubious distinction of being the owner of shares in Anglo as late as 2007, which is hardly indicative of someone who thought our property and banking systems were on the brink of collapse.

That said, I do agree that the Cabinet should be comprised of non-Oireachtas members.

It would introduce expertise, and make it easier for TDs to hold the Government to account, as they wouldn't have to worry about offending someone to whom they may later be beholden.


It will be interesting to see if any party includes the use of the Seanad option in its next GE manifesto.
 

Joopface

Active member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
108
I look at Fine Gael's front bench and see a Doctor for Health, a Soldier for Foreign Affairs, and Economist for Finance, a Teacher for Education and best of all a Primary School Teacher in charge of government ... seems almost qualified enough. :lol:
Yeah, I had the same thought when throwing this together, actually. Enda Kenny would appear to be a bit of a fish out of water. Career politician, and ex minister, of course, but absolutely no real world experience, and from a political family (which, although not inherrently a bad thing, wouldn't put him in the best possible light in my eyes.. :))
 

laidback

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
1,134
Can I query Mary Harney being a secondary school teacher?

I believe she did a history and politics degree, then a Dip Ed to be qualified as a secondary school teacher. I thought she was then nominated to the Seanad by Haughey and never worked a day in the real world in her life!

but I could be wrong about that and maybe she did do a year or so secondary school teaching bringing her great experience for the many ministerial roles to follow....
 

loner

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2005
Messages
8,171
Ministerial Qualifications--do they need any? No except the ability to get elected to the Dail or the Seanad.
 

Joopface

Active member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
108
Can I query Mary Harney being a secondary school teacher?

I believe she did a history and politics degree, then a Dip Ed to be qualified as a secondary school teacher. I thought she was then nominated to the Seanad by Haughey and never worked a day in the real world in her life!

but I could be wrong about that and maybe she did do a year or so secondary school teaching bringing her great experience for the many ministerial roles to follow....
Open to correction. She became a Senator at 24, and had run for the Dail for the first time in the preceding election I think. So, say Leaving Cert at 17, 3 year Arts degree, and a 1 year DipEd, she has a couple of years teaching. Probably immaterial, though.

Cork1234 said:
The IMO is far more than a doctors union..
I know nothing about it, really. Except, on its website, it says it's aim is
the IMO said:
to represent doctors in Ireland and to provide them with all relevant services
, which seemed like a Doctor's union to me.
 

Red_93

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
4,678
I had a little time on my hands this morning, so I decided to take a quick look at the biggest three parties' front benches. It's one of the quirks of our system that we elect people to office locally, and individuals are then selected to serve nationally as ministers. I wondered what qualified the people currently doing the jobs to be so selected, as well as those who would want to take over following an election.

Many of the ministers, and would-be ministers have little to no 'outside world' experience. Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, essentially our choice for next Taoiseach, have both been in the Dail since they're in long trousers. And, as is well known, there is a disproportionate number of teachers.
The best qualified for the job they want looks to be Richard Bruton, at least on paper.

Doesn't this list serve as a fairly strong argument for a reform in how ministerial appointments are made? The pool we're choosing from is the same bunch of local-issue politicians, and dynastic family career politicians. It reinforces the 'they're all the same' argument. Should the Taoseach be able to appoint ministers from outside the Oireachtas to take portfolios to which they could add value? Business leaders, international figures etc. I know the Seanad appointments were probably originally intended for this purpose, but has this actually happened in recent memory?

Fianna Fail
Brian Cowen - Taoiseach - Qualified solicitor, TD since age 24
Brian Lenihan- Minister for Finance - Barrister
Batt O'Keeffe - Minsiter for Enterprise Trade and (now) Innovation - any help here? 40 odd when first elected
Mary Coughlan - Minister for Education - Social worker but TD since age 21, so not for long
Mary Harney - Minister for Health - Secondary school teacher, appointed to Seanad at age 24
Micheal Martin - Minister for Foreign Affairs - Secondary School Teacher

Fine Gael

Enda Kenny - Leader of Opposition- Primary School Teacher, TD since early 20s
Richard Bruton- Shadow Finance Minister - Oxford MPhil in Economics, worked at ESRI and 2 large private sector companies
Leo Varadkar - Shadow Enterprise, Trade and Employment - qualfied Medical Doctor, in Dail since age 25/26
Brian Hayes - Shadow Education - Secondary School Teacher, TD since age 28
James Reilly - Shadow Health - qualified Medical Doctor, former president Irish Medical Organisation (essentially, Doctor's union)
Billy Timmins - Shadow Foreign Affairs- army career, including UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon and Cyprus

Labour
Eamon Gilmore - Leader of Labour Party - not sure of history here? I know he was 30-odd when first elected to Dail
Joan Burton - Finance Spokesman - Chartered Accountant, lecturer
Willie Penrose - Enterprise,Trade and Employment - Barrister
Ruairi Quinn - Education - Architecht
Jan O'Sullivan - Health - Montessori teacher
Michael D. Higgins - Foreign Affairs - Sociology and Political Science University Lecturer
Why did you only pick these ones BTW?
 

Joopface

Active member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
108
Why did you only pick these ones BTW?
I thought it would be fairly representative. Big hitter positions. Leader, Finance, Employment, Health, Education and 'de Foreigners'. Feel free to point out any of the well qualified other ministers I've missed.
 

kevmac

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
155
The two main qualifications seem to be either a) a teacher or b) have a close relative who was a TD. That's it.
 

Red_93

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
4,678
I thought it would be fairly representative. Big hitter positions. Leader, Finance, Employment, Health, Education and 'de Foreigners'. Feel free to point out any of the well qualified other ministers I've missed.
Oh, there are very few, would it be OK with you if others (ie, me) found out the other ones. Good thread BTW;).
 

Joopface

Active member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
108
Oh, there are very few, would it be OK with you if others (ie, me) found out the other ones. Good thread BTW;).
The more the merrier!
 

physicist

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 29, 2010
Messages
6,274
I thought it would be fairly representative. Big hitter positions. Leader, Finance, Employment, Health, Education and 'de Foreigners'. Feel free to point out any of the well qualified other ministers I've missed.
Maybe erm ... Defence? Justice? erm Tánaistí? :lol:
 

sauntersplash

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
3,466
Of course there is the minor detail of the fundamental principle of Democracy being that it is available to everyone. How about we only grant land owners the right to vote or stand for public office? Now where have I heard that before?

The problem is not that our politicians are not educated enough, it is that our democracy no longer represents the people from which it's leaders are drawn. It represents a small section of society who are initiated into the mumbo-jumbo of a very specialised type of education.
 

MPB

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2009
Messages
4,465
It would be worth considering having an age restriction on when you can first run for election to the Dail. Say 28 or 30 years of age, as at least then you would have some experience of the real world, in which the electorate you represent live in.

It would also go some of the way to preventing the inheritance of seats
 

Red_93

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
4,678
OK Joopface, I added to yours:

Fianna Fail
Brian Cowen - Taoiseach - Qualified solicitor, TD since age 24
Brian Lenihan- Minister for Finance - Barrister
Batt O'Keeffe - Minsiter for Enterprise Trade and (now) Innovation - any help here? 40 odd when first elected
Mary Coughlan - Minister for Education - Social worker but TD since age 21, so not for long
Mary Harney - Minister for Health - Secondary school teacher, appointed to Seanad at age 24
Micheal Martin - Minister for Foreign Affairs - Secondary School Teacher
Éamon Ó Cuív - Minister for Social Protection - Gaeltacht co-operative manager
Brendan Smith - Minister for Agriculture - Political adviser, TD at 38.
Dermot Ahern - Minister for Justice and Law reform - Solicitor,
John Gormley - Environment Minister - Owned a language school, TD at 38
Éamon Ryan - Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources - business man
Noel Dempsey - Minister for Transport - Career Guidance Teacher
Mary Hanafin - Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism - Teacher
Tony Killeen - Minister for Defence - Primary teacher
Pat Carey - Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs - Teacher


Fine Gael

Enda Kenny - Leader of Opposition- Primary School Teacher, TD since early 20s
Richard Bruton- Shadow Finance Minister - Oxford MPhil in Economics, worked at ESRI and 2 large private sector companies
Leo Varadkar - Shadow Enterprise, Trade and Employment - qualfied Medical Doctor, in Dail since age 25/26
Brian Hayes - Shadow Education - Secondary School Teacher, TD since age 28
James Reilly - Shadow Health - qualified Medical Doctor, former president Irish Medical Organisation (essentially, Doctor's union)
Billy Timmins - Shadow Foreign Affairs- army career, including UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon and Cyprus
Olwyn Enright - Shadow Social Protection - Barrister
Michael Creed - Shadow Agriculture - Teacher
Charlie Flanagan - Shadow Justice and law reform - Solicitor
Fergus O'Dowd - Shadow Transport - Teacher
Phil Hogan - Shadow Environment - Teacher
Simon Coveney - Shadow Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - Sailing instructor
Olivia Mitchell - Shadow Arts Sport and Tourism - Teacher
Jimmy Deenihan - Shadow Defence - Teacher
Michael Ring - Shadow Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs - Auctioneer

Labour
Eamon Gilmore - Leader of Labour Party - not sure of history here? I know he was 30-odd when first elected to Dail
Joan Burton - Finance Spokesman - Chartered Accountant, lecturer
Willie Penrose - Enterprise,Trade and Employment - Barrister
Ruairi Quinn - Education - Architecht
Jan O'Sullivan - Health - Montessori teacher
Michael D. Higgins - Foreign Affairs - Sociology and Political Science University Lecturer
Róisín Shortall - Social Protection - Teacher
Seán Sherlock - Agriculture - PA to Proinsias DeRossa, Degree in Economics and Politics
Pat Rabitte - Justice and Law Reform - Teacher, Trade Unionist, Qualified Solicitor but never practiced
Tommy Broughan - Transport - Teacher
Joanna Tuffy - Environment - Solicitor
Liz McManus - Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - Freelance Journalist, Architect, writer
Mary Upton - Culture, Sport and Tourism - Lecturer
Brian O'Shea - Defence - Teacher
Jack Wall - Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs - Electrician
 

Guangzhoutom

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2008
Messages
43
True sauntersplash, we should not develop a system where, for example, a teacher could never become Taoiseach, no matter how much popular support he or she had. But at the moment, it seems as if teachers/ those with family connections have a massively unfair advantage.

Possibly direct election of the Taoiseach, who will then pick a cabinet that must answer to the Dail would be a solution?
 

Red_93

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2010
Messages
4,678
True sauntersplash, we should not develop a system where, for example, a teacher could never become Taoiseach, no matter how much popular support he or she had. But at the moment, it seems as if teachers/ those with family connections have a massively unfair advantage.

Possibly direct election of the Taoiseach, who will then pick a cabinet that must answer to the Dail would be a solution?
So why not just have a Presidential system all together.
 
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