And the end-of-term awards for political prowess go to . . .
We can’t let our representatives go on a very long summer break without acknowledging their outstanding contribution
Tánaiste Burton with former Labour leader Eamon Gilmore. He went quietly, but Pat Rabbitte fought an entertaining rearguard action. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
THE GOLDEN WHISTLE AWARD
This goes to former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan for services to “so-called whistleblowers”. Callinan’s headline-hitting year began with his illuminating appearance before the PAC, when he demonstrated a disconcerting level of disdain for whistleblowers in what he called “my force,” along with a strange attitude to why they might even exist.
“We can’t have a situation where 13,000 members can start making complaints against each other,” he spluttered. “Isn’t it extraordinary that it’s just two people that are making huge allegations. Why isn’t it dozens? Hundreds?”
Callinan wasn’t having it. “I cannot be usurped by subordinates,” he declared, before coming out with the line that would prove his ultimate undoing. “Frankly, on a personal level, I find it quite disgusting.”
YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME AWARD
Joan Burton became Labour’s first female leader on July 4th, and she takes over a parliamentary party which includes three former leaders – Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Ruairí Quinn. Two of them went quietly, but Pat fought an entertaining rearguard action before Burton gave him the push on reshuffle day.
Tánaiste Burton is seen by many as the big winner of this Dáil term, but that remains to be seen. Joan has the job she’s wanted for a long time, but she won’t be able to distance herself so easily from unpopular Government decisions now – something she managed to do quite skilfully when minister for social protection.
THE JOINED AT THE HIP STATUETTE
This was to have been jointly presented to Alan Shatter and Martin Callinan for bolstering each other up disgracefully during the GSOC/Whistleblower affairs but cannot now be presented as it has been broken.
They are no longer joined at the hip and no longer in their jobs, although both are very unhappy at the manner of their departures.
Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – who have had an excellent few months – were arrested on suspicion of causing the breakage but were released without charge after the media was given full details of their arrest. It now transpires that Shatter and Callinan broke it themselves.
Instead, a special award goes to “sources close to Martin Callinan” for services to the crime-reporting industry.
It could have gone to the insightful Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe, addressing the Censorship of Publications Board Repeal Bill aka The Dirty Books Bill. “The State or its organs do not have a role to play,” he said.
Or it might have gone to the former Garda commissioner, telling the PAC how a motorist could have penalty points wiped due to extenuating circumstances. Someone like an elderly farmer driving home at speed because “the bees are out of control” and might attack his cattle.
Or Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, grief-stricken over the prospect of Garth Brooks not performing in Dublin this weekend: “This, to me, is like a funeral without a corpse. There’s a sadness throughout the nation.”
But the award goes to People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett, deeply unimpressed by the Coalition’s decision in March to mark their third anniversary in power with three days of meaningless Dáil statements on the “Government’s priorities in the year ahead”. (First one should have been to stop losing the run of themselves.)
A “three-day orgy of backslapping” as Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl put it.
Here’s RBB: “Let me summarise the Taoiseach and Tánaiste’s speech: ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah. Mumble, mumble. Blah, blah, blah. Mumble, mumble. Success.’ What a load of bullshit!”
GET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT AWARD
Goes to Micheál Martin : as the Dáil worked up to the summer break, there were many issues of national and international importance which the Opposition could have made some noise about.