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Thread: Ministerial Qualifications - do they need any?!

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    Default Ministerial Qualifications - do they need any?!

    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
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    Politics.ie Member physicist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joopface View Post
    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.

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

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    Politics.ie Member KingKane's Avatar
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    I had a go at this years ago. Hasn't changed much since, but you do get the occasion newspaper article about it now so it had some effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joopface View Post
    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.
    A demagogue is someone who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by physicist View Post
    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.
    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.. )
    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
    John Stuart Mill

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    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....

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    The IMO is far more than a doctors union...

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    Ministerial Qualifications--do they need any? No except the ability to get elected to the Dail or the Seanad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by laidback View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cork1234
    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
    Quote Originally Posted by the IMO
    to represent doctors in Ireland and to provide them with all relevant services
    , which seemed like a Doctor's union to me.
    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
    John Stuart Mill

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    Politics.ie Member Red_93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joopface View Post
    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?

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