All work and no play as Donnelly shrugs off taunts
Gilmore forecasts a Fianna Fáil jersey at the next general election
Wicklow Independent Stephen Donnelly challenged the Tánaiste on an ESRI report indicating that the poorest 10 per cent of people were being asked to give up the most. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore believes he knows the identity of Fianna Fáil’s next parliamentary recruit.
Galway East Independent Colm Keaveney has already joined the Soldiers of Destiny, while Dublin South Independent Peter Mathews is undergoing a period of reflection and prayer before deciding whether to accept the party’s offer to be its candidate in the European elections in Dublin.
Fullness of time
Gilmore predicted in the Dáil yesterday that Wicklow Independent Stephen Donnelly will become a Soldier of Destiny in the fullness of time. The vocal Government backbenchers made it clear they agreed.
Donnelly challenged the Tánaiste on an ESRI report indicating that the poorest 10 per cent of people in the State were being asked to give up the most, while the next poorest 10 per cent were asked to give up the next amount.
“A study of 80 per cent of the population will show a correlation between poverty and how much Budget 2014 takes from the poorest.”
Gilmore replied that the ESRI had published two reports, adding that it had acknowledged that the model used exaggerated the scale of the actual losses in the budget as it assumed more income was taxed and welfare payments fell behind average incomes.
“No doubt, however, that all recent budgets have had a serious impact on the incomes of people in all parts of the country.”
Donnelly turned his political guns on Labour. He asked why the party’s TDs had voted through a budget that hit the poorest hardest, adding that he was missing his child’s Christmas play because he wanted to be in the Dáil to question the Tánaiste on the issue.
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, noting that the Wicklow TD had exceeded his time allocation, said: “I will get the deputy back to his Christmas play quicker if he sits down.”
Gilmore said he was sorry Donnelly was missing his child’s Christmas play, adding that he could predict what the Independent TD would not miss.
“I think he will not miss the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party away day in 2015 before the general election because I predict that it is where he is heading.”
Gilmore forecast that Donnelly would wear the Fianna F
áil jersey at the next general election and between now and then he would do Fianna Fáil’s work for them. He would assert he was an Independent and quote a very worthwhile independent document to criticise the Government, he added.
While Donnelly warned the Tánaiste not to believe everything he read in the newspapers, he did not dispute the prediction.
Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming reminded the Tánaiste of his membership of a number of parties throughout his career. “Was it five or six ?”
Gilmore said Donnelly’s putative party had cut social welfare rates, the minimum wage and put low-paid people into the universal social charge. This led to the inevitable noisy exchanges.
The Ceann Comhairle reminded TDs that the Dáil was not “Ballymagash” but the houses of parliament. Then, the season of goodwill intervened, and he expressed some sympathy with them.
“The sooner you get your holidays the better,” he said. “I think you all need a break.”
The holidays start next Thursday. Meanwhile, the political steps taken by the Independent Wicklow TD will be closely monitored by all in Leinster House.