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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 26 October, 2016

‘Time to refocus on the beef crisis’: There’s been some lightning-quick reactions to the reshuffle

The Government has a new look. Now it’s time to get down to business, say the farmers, teachers, doctors, hoteliers……

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Updated at 2.36pm

THE STATEMENTS BEGAN arriving in the inboxes of the nation’s newsrooms while Enda Kenny was still on his feet announcing the reshuffle.

Hardly a surprise — the speculation over who’s taking what ministry has been intensifying all morning: by the time the Taoiseach rose in the Dáil to announce his new Cabinet just before 2pm, it was little more than a rubber-stamping exercise.

For the full run-down — of course, has all the detail here.

But here’s what the various unions, associations, charities and other lobby groups think of the coalition’s new front-bench line-up.

Fastest finger first

The farmers were first out of the traps. They’ve been criticising Simon Coveney in recent weeks for ‘taking his eye off ball’ in light of speculation that he might be moving from agriculture.

He’s staying in the Department though — and here’s what the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is saying:

Now that months of speculation surrounding Mr Coveney’s position are at an end, ICSA wants to see him re-focusing on the ongoing beef crisis.

The Minister must also now deal with the fact that more than 10,000 farmers have appealed what they perceive as unjust LPIS penalties.

ICSA is also concerned about the addition of the Defence portfolio to the Minister’s brief.

We hope this won’t distract Minister Coveney from the key issues in agriculture, and particularly the current crisis in the beef sector.

Next it was the teachers — who, as we all know, had a fractious relationship with the last Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn.

Here’s ASTI General Secretary Pat King’s take on Jan O’Sullivan:

The ASTI is available to meet and work with Minister O’Sullivan to resolve the current dispute over proposed changes to Junior Cycle assessment.

The proposals as they stand do not have the confidence of teachers and it is now clear that parents also have serious concerns.

Education is a key ministry and the ASTI will support the new Minister in seeking to reverse five years of damaging cuts in school staffing and resources.

Next… The hoteliers. They’ll miss Leo Varadkar, they say… But they’re hoping they can work with Paschal Donohoe, who moves up from the junior ministerial ranks.

According to IHF President Stephen McNally:

We look forward to working with Minister Donohoe to ensure tourism achieves a sustained recovery, building on the significant progress made since 2011 – during which time the industry has created over 23,000 new jobs.

We also welcome the Government’s renewed acknowledgement today of the critical role tourism has to play in the country’s economic recovery.

Time to hear from the doctors… They’re not saying whether or not they’ll miss James Reilly — but here’s what they’re hoping to achieve with Leo Varadkar at the helm of the Department of Health…

The statement from IMO chief, Professor Trevor Duffy:

We need to take the ideology out of the Irish health services.

We don’t need reforms which are designed by the IMF in Washington, we need reforms which reflect the reality of an overstretched health service where services to patients are being cut year on year, workload for doctors is increasing to unmanageable levels, Government routinely flouts European Directives on Working Time for NCHDs and where policymakers spend more time recruiting doctors from overseas on temporary contracts than they do trying to incentivise our highly trained doctors to stay at home and practice their profession here where they are most needed.

The folks at Women for Election had a bit of number-crunching and history-book-flicking-through to do… But they’re broadly supportive of today’s announcement.

Their statement:

The appointment of two more women to cabinet today marks a milestone in Irish public life with the highest number of women in senior ministerial positions ever.Ministers O’Sullivan and Humphries join An Tánaiste Joan Burton and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, along with the Attorney General, Máire Whelan SC, in leading the most gender diverse government in Irish history.

A total of 5 women now sit around the cabinet table.

And some quotes from the group’s co-founder Niamh Gallagher:

We are delighted to congratulate Ministers O’Sullivan and Humphries on their appointment to cabinet.The fact that 27 per cent of Senior Ministers are women is a marker of how far we have come in Irish public life but also of how far we have yet to go.

The skills and talents of Irish female politicians are finally beginning to be recognised.

We look forward to seeing the difference these women will bring to the visibility of women in politics and we hope it highlights the viability of politics as an opportunity open to women.

From the charities, here’s Trócaire’s take on Charlie Flanagan’s appointment at the Department of Foreign Affairs…

The Government’s overseas aid programme – Irish Aid – and its official development assistance (ODA) budget are integral to the work of his Department.

In addition to its essential, poverty-reducing and life-saving work, the programme has become a flagship for our international reputation.

After six consecutive years of cuts in which the volume of Ireland’s ODA has fallen over 30%, we ask Minister Flanagan to stem the growing gap between the Government’s previously stated commitment (a 0.7% target of ODA/GNI by 2015) and the actual ODA yearly allocations.

At a minimum, it is critical that there is no further cut to ODA in the forthcoming 2015 Budget.”

Oxfam Ireland, meanwhile, are calling for the new Cabinet to address the issue of growing inequality here.

According to CEO Jim Clarken:

Oxfam Ireland would like to congratulate all those who have taken up new Cabinet positions today – they are uniquely positioned to shape Ireland’s future and make it a more equitable place.

As they take over their portfolios we would ask them to look beyond the electoral cycle and consider what policies they can introduce to address rising inequality in our society.

The facts speak for themselves and we cannot hope to end extreme poverty if elected representatives are not willing to tackle the economic, political and social inequalities that are in the process of putting down deep roots.

More as we get them…

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