Exhausted deputies in need of energy boost from oysters

Dáil Sketch: the exchanges conjured up images of exhausted parliamentarians doing a job few others wanted to do

Fergus O’Dowd’s only companions for a time in the Dáil chamber yesterday were Fianna Fáil’s Sean Ó Fearghaíl and Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Fergus O’Dowd’s only companions for a time in the Dáil chamber yesterday were Fianna Fáil’s Sean Ó Fearghaíl and Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 01:00

Ah yes, those days of near full employment when the Celtic Tiger roared.

It was on the mind of Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd when he sat in for Enda Kenny at Taoiseach’s Question Time yesterday. His only companions for a time in the chamber were Fianna Fáil’s Sean Ó Fearghaíl and Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Ó Fearghaíl was complaining about the pace of the Government’s progress in introducing Dáil reform. O’Dowd outlined the progress to date. The long summer, Christmas and Easter breaks had been reduced, with an increase in sitting days from 96 in 2008 to 123 last year; the number of Oireachtas committees had been reduced from 25 to 16 and there were Friday sittings.

He referred to the remarkable parliamentary job creation under the previous government. He recalled looking from the Opposition benches at “the serried ranks of Fianna Fáil as they were then’’ and observing that only two of them were not a minister, a junior minister, a committee chairman, vice-chairman, convenor or whatever. And it was all on the public purse, he said.

“With respect, we cannot take a lecture from Deputy Ó Fearghaíl,’’ he added. “The previous history stands for itself.’’

Ó Snodaigh scolded the media for not covering more committee work. “The hard work of being a deputy is often ignored,’’ he said. He quickly added that he was not blowing his own trumpet.

The exchanges conjured up images of exhausted parliamentarians doing a job few others wanted to do. No more backstabbing and jockeying for position at pre-election selection conventions. That will be the day.

Nobody mentioned the Dáil took a week’s break after the June bank holiday weekend and that TDs have two full-time staff, a secretary and a parliamentary assistant, paid by the State.

In the Seanad, the visit to Dublin of Michelle Obama and her daughters was on the mind of Louth Fine Gael Senator Terry Brennan.

It was no surprise, he said, that Mrs Obama had requested Carlingford oysters as her starter in a Dublin restaurant on Monday night, given its reputation as an aphrodisiac. Life-improving qualities were enhanced if they were consumed in his own town of Carlingford, he said. Brennan extended an invitation to the Obama family to visit Carlingford to test the veracity of his statement.

It begged the question: would the inclusion of oysters on the restaurant menu lead to greater energy levels in Leinster House ?