The word “reshuffle” is actually a very fitting name for what’s set to happen to the Irish government cabinet in a month or so. Because like shuffling a deck, you end up with the exact same cards you had before, just in a slightly different order.
For example, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is set to swap roles with Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath. And the only difference between these two is that one man is from Fine Gael, and the other is from Fianna Fáil – ideologically, they are identical twins.
There will be no noticeable difference in how Ireland runs its finances after this swap. We’ll have the same scheduled carbon tax hike next year, which both men have affirmed. Our corporate tax rate will remain at 15%, which both men support. We’ll still be earmarking billions of euros for Ukrainians. Nothing remotely important will change.
The only difference is that the pen signing off on these policies will be a Fianna Fáil one, and not a Fine Gael one, or vice versa.
The government is basically moving these characters around for the sake of moving them, at no benefit whatsoever to the voting public. It’s like a game of musical chairs, and essentially amounts to a big waste of everyone’s time and energy.
And so, in all the reshuffling, it hardly matters if Justice Minister Helen McEntee stays or goes from her current position – though that won’t stop her from trying to hang onto the role for dear life.
As reported by the Irish Examiner this week:
McEntee keen to retain justice role in Cabinet reshuffle https://t.co/eSYTJU0fQc
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) November 21, 2022
Oh, I bet she is.
The piece goes on to explain:
“Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said she believes she has made it clear that she wants to remain in the justice portfolio after the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle.
She said: “I think I’ve probably made it clear that I’d love to stay where I am. There’s a lot I’m working on, particularly in the area of domestic violence. I’ve just published the family court bill on strategy this week, I really, really want to see that through.
“We’re starting to get into the new recruitment campaign with the gardaí and we’ve a lot of legislation coming down the road to support them in how they’re going to do their work. I’d love to see it through but I appreciate there’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of decisions have to be taken and whatever decision is made I’ll fully support that.”
Now at this stage it’s worth pointing out that McEntee has objectively, even by her own metric, failed as a Minister. I don’t say that to be mean to her personally, but simply to state facts.
According to the CSO, in the last year there has been a 22% increase in rape, a 17% increase in sexual assault, and an 80% increase in sexual offences involving a person with mental impairment.
There has also been a 31% jump in assault causing harm, an 18% increase in less serious assaults, 9% increase in threats to kill, a 6.5% rise in harassment, and no change in attempted murders.
Robberies, including burglaries and bank robberies are up, and there was a huge leap in blackmail and extortion. Drug importation offences are up, shootings are up, fraud is up, kidnapping is up.
I don’t see how anyone other than the most partisan Fine Gael fanatic could argue that this paints a picture of a job well done.
Granted, some serious crimes did decrease. For example, murders are down 56%, which sounds great. But a lot of that is actually to do with the fact that the gangland wars between the Kinahan Cartel and the Hutch Gang have been dialled back in many respects.
As of last year cartel boss Daniel Kinahan has reportedly ordered an end to the killing of rival gang members, which inevitably will have suppressed the national murder rate.
So in reality, the fact that murders are down has nothing at all to do with McEntee, and everything to do with organised crime politics.
Major split in Kinahan cartel as boss Daniel orders end of Hutch gang killings https://t.co/GqQhQx4DRz
— Michael O’Toole (@mickthehack) July 14, 2021
At this point some will no doubt point out that last year we had the lockdown. People will argue that as society opened up, there would inevitably be an increase in crime, which isn’t McEntee’s fault.
However, in reality, most of the above figures were taken during the lockdown.
The CSO stats are from the 12 months leading up to March 2022, and Ireland’s lockdown didn’t fully end until April. So clearly, you can’t attribute the re-opening of society to the surge in crime.
Moreover, even if it was the case that crime was simply returning to pre-lockdown levels, that would mean that McEntee had not managed to bring the figures down, and that they were on course to be at least as bad as when she took office. This, again, would be a form of failure. If you’re hired to solve a problem, and the problem still exists years later, then that’s what most people would call “mission failed.”
But like Paschal Donohoe and McGrath swapping places, it does little good to remove McEntee, and replace her with, say, Micheál Martin, as has been proposed as a successor by many in Fianna Fáil. After all, what would Martin do differently? What would any of them do differently?
Let’s imagine, hypothetically, that Micheál Martin became Justice Minister. And let’s say he came out guns blazing with all the right policies to tackle crime. Imagine he said “Hey lads – we’re going to forcibly deport violent criminals and put them on planes back to their home countries. We’re going to build more prisons, and sack the incompetent judges that constantly let scumbags off with suspended sentences.”
Do you think that would be tolerated by the others? Do you think he’d be allowed to do that by his party colleagues? That is so radically outside the bounds of anything that these parties have done for decades, that no new Justice Minister would dare to try it, even if they wanted to. The rest of the party and government coalition more broadly would go into spasm if it was even attempted.
Under Justice Minister Micheál Martin, you would, in fact, get more of the same: amnesty schemes for illegal migrants; so-called “hate speech” laws; changing the Garda uniform to look like a budget Star Trek crew. Bullshit, in other words. And the same would be true if it was Paschal Donohoe, or Catherine Martin, or Simon Harris filling the role. Because the party culture, at root, remains the same woke, bleeding-heart liberal nonsense.
Long story short, don’t expect a whole lot to change if she does get turfed out in a month’s time.