Gogarty’s ‘FU’ Moment and Other Dail Outrages
Deaglán de Bréadún
Green Party TD Paul Gogarty is not the first to create public outrage by his remarks in the Dáil. Nor is he the first to attract attention for his use of unparliamentary language.
Cork TD Martin Corry (1890-1979), according to reports, was a man who did not mince his words either, although I am not saying he used the eff-word. In those days, it was all off-camera and the written record could always be edited before publication.
Other startling moments in our Dáil history include Oliver J. Flanagan’s comment in 1943 : “There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair’s breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are there is the honey, and where the Jews are there is the money.”
Then there was the occasion in February 1934 when future taoiseach John A. Costello told the Dail that, “the Blackshirts were victorious in Italy and . . . the Hitler Shirts were victorious in Germany, as, assuredly . . . the Blueshirts will be victorious in the Irish Free State”. (To read the debate, click here.)
Less outrageous, although it still caused a stir at the time, was Garret FitzGerald’s statement that Charles Haughey had a “flawed pedigree”. The literal meaning of that would appear to be that Haughey was what used to be called illegitimate or, if you like, a “bastard” (Apologies for the political incorrectness here.)
It’s extremely doubtful from the context that FitzGerald meant it like that – he was speaking of Haughey’s overweening ambition (for the full text of his speech, click here.) I understand that Haughey’s mother was in the House that day for her son’s nomination as taoiseach. Later, in an interview with the present writer, Haughey himself described the remark as “horrific”. But although there had been an element in the Opposition down the years which tried to make out that Eamon de Valera was “a Spanish bastard” (not true of course), there was never any such suggestion about Haughey.