Bertie Ahern was amazingly conservative in his appointment of ministers. He never had the sanguine nature to do the slashing job that Albert Reynolds did when he became Taoiseach.
Bertie's method is an effective one. He is not into invasive surgery. When things had to change in 2004 he did so with a minimum of fuss. Charlie McCreevy was booted upstairs. Joe Walsh and Michael Smith were finally given their walking papers. And that allowed him to bring in three.
The same kind of compositional creatity was used this time around. He offered John O'Donoghue the Ceann Comhairle position. He could have done a bit more tinkering and appointed Brian Lenihan as Attorney General (there is no bar for a politician to become A-G). In the event Dick Roche got the flick to accommoddate John Gormley and Eamon Ryan.
Whatever deficiencies there were for the Greens in the draft programme for government, they partly made up by getting two plum ministries, both of which feed strongly into the green agenda.
And for those who had to be shifted, the big winners were the negotiators. Noel Dempsey moves to Transport and Marine; Seamus Brennan parlayed his way into a position that he became indispensable - Bertie just couldn't drop him after his starring role over the past six weeks. And for Brian Cowen, his position as the 'annointed' was confirmed by him becoming the first Tanaiste since John Wilson.