Phil Hogan, Napoleon and Omelettes

Wednesday 15 January 2014 16.22
Phil Hogan has defended Irish Water costs (Credit: Photocall/Sam Boal)
Phil Hogan has defended Irish Water costs (Credit: Photocall/Sam Boal)

For those minded to, Bord Bia’s website provides a quick and easy recipe for making an omelette. Actually, it is for making a Classic French Omelette, writes Brian Dowling of RTÉ's political staff

Reassuringly, Bord Bia tells readers that "everybody, from 9-90 should know how to make an omelette."

One of the essential tools in this enterprise is a non-stick pan, with the emphasis firmly on the “non-stick." This of course makes perfect sense. Properly executed it should be possible to ensure a fine mix of ingredients, a fine finished product and no sticky mess left to be cleaned up.

There is a story that in his time Napoleon Bonaparte tried an omelette and was so pleased he ordered an immediate supply for his troops. And, it was he who also famously remarked on the need for lucky generals.

Phil Hogan has enjoyed a somewhat untouchable status as one of Enda Kenny’s most trusted generals. Hogan, more than anyone, ensured that the attempted coup to remove Kenny as Fine Gael leader in 2010 was routed with clinical efficiency.

His elevation to a senior Cabinet post was never in doubt and, all things being equal, he is firmly in the prime position to be appointed Ireland’s new European Commissioner later this year.

Early on in his term as Environment Minister there was trouble afoot, particularly over the initial attempts to introduce household charges. Now he is in the midst of the row over the costs of setting up Irish Water.

Never short of a few words, Hogan this morning defended the costs saying he knew the overall set-up cost would be of the order of €180m but that he hadn’t got into a breakdown of exactly how much was spent on consultants and service providers.

Somewhat unfortunate then, that in defending the start up costs of Irish Water, he also remarked that it is not possible to make an omelette without breaking eggs.

So true, but done properly there shouldn’t be a sticky mess left to clean up. And, for better or worse, he is now right in the middle of a mess, that may well be cleaned up.

That, however, hasn’t stopped some of his colleagues wondering about “lucky generals” and that kind of thing.