The Carlow Nationalist's take on the elevation of Mary White

LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore react­ed to news of the internal strife within Fianna Fáil after Taoiseach Brian Cowen's reshuffle by claiming that "we are in the dying days of this government, and the only issue is how long it will take for that to occur". He would say that, wouldn't he?

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny likened the reshuffle to a "weird version of happy families". He too would say that, wouldn't he?

The opposition reaction to the reshuffle was predictable, and even if Cowen had opted for a 'night of the long knives' move and culled several ministers, a-la-Albert Reynolds in 1992, they would still have lambasted Cowen.

While there were no surprises in the opposition reaction, some of the criticism of Cowen's move from other quarters did raise eyebrows.

Noel Whelan, the political analyst and former Fianna Fáil local election candidate, is sometimes criticised for siding with the government, but he was critical on RTE tele­vision imm­ediately after the reshuffle.

Elsewhere, some sections of the media are perceived to be 'anti-government', but the Irish Times is generally seen as balanced, so the paper's editorial on Wednesday morning was interesting.

Under the headline 'Little risked and nothing radical', the editorial stated, "Low expectations were set for Taoiseach Brian Cowen's Cabinet reshuffle and they have been broadly met.

"The minor changes he made in ministerial personnel and the reconfiguration of their administrative responsibilities were less about reinvigorating government before an election by 2012. They were more about minimising dissent within Fianna Fáil and reducing friction between the coalition partners."

From a business perspective, Eunan King, managing director of King Research Ltd, told RTE's Prime Time that the "restructuring simply shifts the chair on the decks a bit. I didn't see any evidence of new thinking. I didn't see any evidence that there was any reference to the smart economy..."

On the same programme, Dr Gary Murphy, professor of politics at DCU, added: "I don't think it is terribly clear-cut in terms of a jobs strategy. I also don't think the reshuffle has gone far enough at all in terms of the personnel."

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland on Wednesday, Theresa Reidy of the UCC Department of Government labelled the reshuffle a "damp squib."

"The reshuffle was minimal and the departmental changes were the same. It is quite strange at this point that the taoiseach did not decide to go for broke in terms of changing the tone of his last few years in power so I think it really was a bit of a damp squib and I wouldn't expect very much in terms of outcome or significant change in tone for the government," she said.

"He had an opportunity to make very significant changes in terms of the kinds of people he wanted to put into different departments and the kind of tone he wants to set for the government going forward.

"There are a couple things that stand out as unusual. The dropping of employment from the names of the ministries... is quite incomprehensible," she added.

The reaction was not wholly negative though, and veteran Fianna Fáil TD Mary O'Rourke claimed that Cowen's decision to keep Mary Coughlan in the role of Tánaiste and move her to education was "very interesting".

She added: "It's a tough department and she's a tough dame so I think that they will suit one another. Brian Cowen had a hand of cards to deal and I think that he dealt them in a clever, stimulating way."

While there was widespread criticism of Cowen's reshuffle on a national level, the mantra that 'all politics is local' is always pertinent and the reaction of the local media in Carlow shows that.

With a headline that might have caused major controversy in some parts of the world, the Carlow Nationalist welcomed the appointment of local Green TD Mary White as the junior minister for agriculture with, 'White supremacy as Mary is Carlow's first female minister'.