Friday, April 20, 2007
INSIDE POLITICS - Got my sums wrong on Lemass
Just in case anybody out there is a big enough sap to take the word of a political correspondent as gospel!
I was one of the people who contributed to Mark Warren's quirky series 'So You Want to be Taoiseach'.
Within minutes, my most qualified (and bloody pedantic) colleague had texted me to remind me of the error. And demanding as public and as humiliating an apology!
Last night I was making the point that being Minister for Finance is always a big help. And among those who I said held that portfolio was Sean Lemass, the Taoiseach from 1959 to 1966.
Of course, he was never. He was de Valera's Tánaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce for many years but it was Sean McEntee who was the Finance Minister. It's clear that Lemass coveted the job at Finance and was disappointed when McEntee got the plum role in the 1951 FF administration.
And one thing that I neglected to point out that there were occasions (ie when we were going through hard times) when being Minister for Finance signalled the death of your ambition. There have been a few Finance ministers associated with austerity who could never become Taoiseach. They included McEntee certainly (his hard measures in the early 1950s contributed to the fall of the minority FF Government in 1954) and also Richie Ryan from the 1973-1977 Coalition (lampooned on Hall's Pictorical Weekly as the Minister for Hardship).
Perhaps the same could be said of Ray MacSharry, dubbed 'Mac the Knife' for his swingeing cut-backs in 1987-89.