Ó Cuív weaves baffling web about 'spider and the fly'


DÁIL SKETCH:Euro crisis brings out the best in mixed metaphors and nursery rhymes

WHEN NURSERY rhymes are mentioned in the Dáil it’s time to worry.

And the perplexed look on his party colleagues’ faces reflected that of most in the chamber as Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív mentioned “the spider and the fly”.

In fairness it may have been an apt metaphor given the topic – the euro crisis.

Ó Cuív, a Eurosceptic former minister, said every time tax harmonisation was mentioned he was reminded “of the old nursery rhyme”.

“We know what happened to the fly when he got into the web,” he said.

As far as Ireland was concerned, EU acquiescence to tax harmonisation “is buying the proposition that was put to the fly in the famous nursery rhyme”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore stayed away from rhymes but was emphatic that “as far as this Government is concerned, there is, and will be, no dictation of policy by either one member state or a small number of them”. Decisions had to be arrived at on a collective basis.

But his declaration had a worrying similarity to the now infamous “Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way”.

However, the Tánaiste was the first Minister to confirm the possibility of a referendum to deal with the euro crisis.

The Government’s view was that existing treaties contained the measures to deal with the crisis. But if Ireland found itself obliged to have another referendum “then so be it”.

If that’s what’s necessary to save the currency….restore the economy….borrow on the financial markets….ensure no future government can turn Ireland into “such a sorry state”….well then “let’s not be afraid to put that choice to the Irish people”.

In the meantime the Government would bring in legislation early next year to set up rules for “responsible budgeting”.

But getting back to rhymes – as Dáil business continued another nursery rhyme was highlighted as a metaphor for people within the EU.

Mattie McGrath, mixing metaphors and nursery rhymes, wanted everyone to wear their “green jerseys”.

“We are all on the national team,” he asserted, and “our electors expect us to stand up to Merkel, Sarkozy and Van Rompuy, who will end up like Humpty Dumpty because there will be no wall and no Europe”.

He didn’t want to be mentioning children’s nursery rhymes, he told everyone.

“I should not bring in a children’s rhyme but that is what it looks like to have feeble attempts over the last 12 months having these highly-publicised meetings and coming up with nothing.”

Nothing is not an option this time around, however.

And the influence of the EU in elections still rankles.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley highlighted Enda Kenny’s photocall with Frau Merkel before the election and criticised the Government for “not fully engaging” with the EU.

“This is not about photo opportunities or being seen going in and out of meetings and looking good on the red carpet,” he asserted. “This is not the Oscars.”

Political Oscars, however, may well be a better metaphor than nursery rhymes for the drama playing out this weekend at the European Council summit in Brussels.