Waterford’s cabinet representative Minister Martin Cullen bolted out of the traps last week to back Tánaiste Brian Cowen to succeed Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader.
A major Cabinet reshuffle is unlikely but there may be some minor changes, with the Department of Finance looking like a decidedly sticky wicket in belt-tightening times.
Micheál Martin would seem an obvious candidate, having held the Enterprise brief, while Noel Dempsey could well be another in the running.
Cowen’s successor in Finance will require a firm and steady hand given the budgets that lie ahead and having to face down the spending demands of cabinet colleagues.
Were Mary Harney not so committed to the Health Portfolio and having been a former Tánaiste, she would seem the most experienced to handle the brief. It could suit Fianna Fáil too, as some tough decisions would have to be made and spending reduced as tax revenues fall.
We in Waterford hope that Mary Hanafin might get a move from Education, as she seems firmly locked into the status quo when it comes to the WIT question.
Coming up with new financial options for Third Level, as recently suggested by Doctor Edward Walsh, where graduates could pay additional tax after qualifying and going into the workplace, could also be considered.
While hardly a vote winner, such logic may be considered. Even an Irish Times editorial last Saturday gave WIT a positive boost, despite less favourable Government finances.
And while Taoiseach Bertie Ahern seemed favourably disposed to the ‘USE’ proposal, his support shall soon be missing.