Christmas cannot mask budget reality
Dáil sketch:By this afternoon in Kildare Street, Joy to the World will be dead to the world.
There won’t be any glad tidings of comfort and joy in Leinster House today. And as soon as the budget is announced, we’ll have a ding-dong massively on high in the Dail chamber.
So. How did our politicians get over the Christmas? Quickly.
It was done and dusted in a day. Tree up. Lights on. Carols sung. Merry Christmas to one and all.
That was it.
And back to the reality of a brutal budget and a plague on all your baubles . . .
They may have been singing Jingle Bells out on Leinster lawn, but it was hard to feel festive with the theme tune from Jaws playing on imaginary loop around the corridors of power.
The timing of the annual switch-on of the Christmas tree lights – and associated yuletide warbling – was a bit unfortunate yesterday. Political minds were definitely not in holiday mood as the countdown to one of the most feared budgets in recent times neared its end.
The Ceann Comhairle – assisted by Seanad Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke – did the honours as usual, surrounded by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, leaders of the main parties and assorted Senators. It was bitterly cold. This permitted Enda and the boys (tree-wise men, anybody?) to smile through grimly gritted teeth and not appear like they wanted to punch each other.
Michéal Martin arrived on the lawn without his topcoat. “It wasn’t deliberate” he shivered, as a flunkie careered through the revolving doors with his navy crombie.
The Oireachtas choir – they were the singers wearing the Santa hats – sang a selection of carols and the Trinity Chapel Choir –250 years old this year – shivered in their surplices and beautifully reciprocated.
This was the Taoiseach’s second carol session of the day. Earlier, he met the boys of the Palestrina Choir at Government Buildings to mark the launch of their Christmas Carol Concert, which is this Sunday night in the National Concert Hall.
The boy sopranos were glad of their heavy blue cassocks as they waited on the steps for Enda to arrive. Given the Taoiseach’s poor record in the timekeeping department, the lads were in grave danger of getting hypothermia and as the clock ticked by, we willed the winsome mites to break into a feeble chorus of “Why Are We Waiting”. But they’re too good for that sort of carry-on, so we hummed it under our breaths for them.
The choir – at least the male wing of it – has been invited to Rome to sing for the pope on January 6th – one of just two choirs to have been given this honour in 500 years.