Calleary resignation poses questions for government

What's best for the west

Edwin McGreal

This series came about because of the visceral anger apparent when Dara Calleary was initially overlooked for a senior ministry in the new Government.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back; people were angered at what they felt was the systemic neglect of the west. The Calleary snubbing was a lighting rod for anger.
But it was never all about one political appointment, it could never be that simple.
In the course of this series, we did not seek to argue that strong political representation was the be all and end all to getting a fair crack of the whip.
Indeed as many, including former minister of state Jim Higgins, have pointed out over the course of this series, Mayo has been very well represented in senior Cabinet positions down the decades and yet here we are, still struggling with depopulation and many inequalities and asking for our fair share.
Putting all the west’s eggs of political representation at the highest level is folly, the problems run much deeper.
So perhaps, in the way we ought not to have overly focused on Dara Calleary’s initial snubbing as a singular problem, we should not look at his self-forced resignation as a regional crisis either.
There’s no doubt that having a senior minister from the area is a help – how could it not be? But that alone will never be enough or else we’ve learned nothing from history.
What has come through loud and clear in this series is the need for a change in mindset at national level. A need to see the west and regions around the country not as a problem, a burden, a cost but as a solution, and spending therein an investment.
Dublin is creaking at the seams. We have an incredibly over-centralised government and country. But if the establishment in this country continues to see only Dublin solutions in Dublin problems, we will arrive at this crossroads again and again.  
Whether there’s a senior minister from western counties or not should not matter. The problem deserves better than to just rely on political appointments. It will be interesting to see how the west does now without a senior minister. Will we suffer? Or will the Government, fearful of the surge Sinn Féin made in the last election along the western seaboard, be more inclined to act with necessary haste?
We keenly await developments with interest.