Shane Coleman: ‘People don't give a tuppeny damn’ where Ministers come from

Shane Coleman: "Here's a mad notion, how about putting the best qualified people into the job?”
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

13.07 3 Apr 2024

Share this article

Shane Coleman: ‘People don't g...

Shane Coleman: ‘People don't give a tuppeny damn’ where Ministers come from

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

13.07 3 Apr 2024

Share this article

Most people ‘don't give a tuppenny damn’ whether their local politician is chosen for Cabinet or not, Shane Coleman has said.

Simon Coveney’s decision to step down as a Government minister yesterday saw many commentators calling the geographical balance of Cabinet into question.

While Minister Coveney was one of three Cork ministers at the Cabinet table, his departure means there are now five from Dublin, two from Cork, two from Wicklow and one each from Kerry, Cavan, Donegal and Meath.


Simon Harris also has two open positions to consider when the time comes for a reshuffle following his expected appointment as Taoiseach next week.

Fine Gael leader Simon Harris speaking at Government Buildings, 27-3-24. Fine Gael leader Simon Harris speaking at Government Buildings, 27-3-24. Image: Leah Farrell / ©

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, presenter Shane Coleman rejected the calls for more areas to be represented at the Cabinet table.

“I have to say, I find it kind of depressing that we're still at that point of parish pump politics,” he said.

“Like absolutely you can't have 15 Cabinet ministers from Dublin or 15 from rural areas; you do need to have a balance of opinion but you can't have one for every constituency.

“I'm kind of depressed we're still at the point where we're obsessed about the car with the star – that kind of nonsense.

“Like, foreign direct development investment is not dependent on a minister being the constituency. The wealth of a constituency is not dependent on having a minister there.

“I think that is highly simplistic and here's a mad notion, how about putting the best-qualified people into the job?”

Box ticking

Shane said trying to “tick a geographical box for every selection” will only lead to a weaker Cabinet.

“We even had a mad situation where there was this talk of two senators in Cork - one is Tim Lombard, the other is Jerry Buttimer - being made a minister to, kind of, tick that box.

“Now, no offence to either of them, but neither of them got elected at the last General Election. Like Jerry Buttimer hasn't been a TD since 2011. How does that make you qualified to become a Government minister?”

Parish pump

Fellow presenter Ciara Kelly said Simon Harris will know that he has to keep rural Ireland happy.

“What I think is wonderful is that that you have studied and been such a follower of politics for so long and you still have such lofty ideas about it,” she told Shane.

“I kind of get this. People want to be represented and there is a feeling, whether you like it or not and whether I like it or not, among people in rural Ireland that they are overlooked.

“That they're disenfranchised and we get everything up in Dublin. That is a thing and the realpolitik of this is that all politics is local – the parish pump.

“Simon Harris has to attempt to keep people happy. That's what politicians do. Their whole purpose is to get re-elected.

“I know that they say their whole purpose is to run the country and public service and blah blah blah but their actual purpose is to get re-elected and to stay in power and to do that you tend to your grassroots.”

Helen McEntee and Simon Coveney at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Image: Sam Boal/

Ciara said Fine Gael is currently dealing with a “bit of an issue in rural Ireland”.

“They used to be seen very much as a party of farmers and things like that and they're kind of losing that now,” she said.

“We saw that big rally in Wexford, where Verona Murphy and 700 people were talking about the fact that they're disenfranchised in rural Ireland – that’s a real thing to be dealt with.”

Shane said voters care more about delivering on policies and performing in government.

“I actually think that's what matters to people,” he said.

“I think, again, people are ahead of politics on this. I think most people don't give a tuppenny damn whether there is a minister in their constituency.

“They care about a government actually doing the business, doing their job well and having the best people in the job.”

Share this article

Read more about

Cabinet Government Ministers Newstalk Breakfast Shane Coleman Simon Coveney Simon Harris

Most Popular