I‘ve been trying out Nostradamus’ trick of staring into fire and water, and taking the odd sniff of nutmeg, to see if I can divine who might be in Leo Varadkar’s first Cabinet!
When a Taoiseach is picking his top team, all sorts of factors play in his mind.
Geography is important – there needs to be a balance between capital and country.
So too is gender – as men and women each make up half the population, it stands to reason that one-half of the Cabinet should be female and the other half male.
It goes without saying that a Minister needs ability to get to grips with their brief, and the nous that comes from political experience to dodge departmental landmines.
Finally, loyalty to the leader, backing the right horse and sticking with him.
For what it’s worth, this is my selection having regard to the above considerations, and bearing in mind the critical strategic threats the country is facing. Chief among these are the need to get the best deal for Ireland from Brexit, keep the lid on public spending and advance public sector reform, and tackle the threat of Islamist terrorist attacks. For these, the Taoiseach needs his most able and trusted people, so I start with them.
Brexit, Enterprise, Innovation and Trade: Simon Coveney
Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Paschal Donohoe
Security and Defence: Eoghan Murphy
Agriculture, Food and Marine: Paul Kehoe
Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs: Michael Ring
Children and Youth Affairs: Katherine Zappone
Communications, Climate Action and Environment: Denis Naughten
Education and Skills: John Paul Phelan
Foreign Affairs: John Deasy
Health: Simon Harris
Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government: Patrick O’Donnell
Justice and Equality: Frances Fitzgerald
Social Protection: Regina Doherty
Transport, Tourism and Sport: Shane Ross
Chief Whip: Helen McEntee
Remember that song by Public Image Limited? “I could be wrong, I could be right”!