Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's in a name...

...a government department by any other name would smell as sweet.

I have belatedly changed the link name for what was the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism to the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport, although the actual url remains the same, at least for the moment.

At the time of the Cabinet re-shuffle, the re-naming of the Department, and the appointment of Mary Hanafin as Minister, there was some discussion about whether the Department and the Minister herself were being downgraded.

I believe the alphabet is never far from Irish politicians' minds since election candidates' surnames can be a factor in electoral contests, particularly in the multi-seat constituency system. So the listing order of names is something they pay attention to.

Petty or not as this may seem, the forgrounding of Tourism, in the place of Arts (or Culture), in the Department's title now puts it well down the listing of Government Departments. That looks deliberate, to me.

The Department also suffered a degree of marginalisation arising from the illness of the two previous Ministerial incumbents, and from the fall from grace of their predecessor, John O'Donoghue, whose expenses became a matter of public controversy.

O'Donoghue was also responsible for decentralising significant parts of the Department to his home county of Kerry. Now however, we have a Dublin-based Minister for a Department where many functions - including the film section - are split between Dublin and Killarney.

Perhaps there has been no organisational fall-out (or loss of institutional expertise) from the geographical rearrangements. Perhaps Minister Hanafin finds herself in a Department that is in good shape and able to maintain a watchful eye on the agencies that report to it. Time, and budgets, will tell.

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