Country may be on the rocks but Garth can help us to keep on rockin’

A real crisis has finally hit: how to get a country star on to centre stage

Joan Burton takes her first Opposition Leaders’ Questions as Tánaiste

Joan Burton takes her first Opposition Leaders’ Questions as Tánaiste


Meanwhile, the ship of State drifts along on the tides, lights ablaze and with loud country music blaring from somewhere inside.

Is there anyone at the helm?

Who will keep us away from the rocks?

Never mind that.

There’s a reshuffle going on and Government jobs to be handed out and a cowboy in Nashville pronouncing on the state of Irish planning laws.

Any thoughts Garth on the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Bill?

This piece of very important money legislation has been nearly three years in the making. It’s to do with providing funding for small to medium-sized enterprises. God knows, businesses struggling to keep afloat need it.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley accused the Taoiseach yesterday of “sitting on his hands”.

It’s nothing short of a “crisis” wailed Timmy.

He wasn’t referring to the Banking Corporation Bill. No. The bould Timmy was taking his time at Joan Burton’s first session of Tánaiste’s questions to thunder about the cancellation of the Garth Brooks concerts.

Swift action

We have to move quickly, he urged the Tánaiste. Swift action is required.

It’s comforting to know that Fianna Fáil has finally learned how to recognise a crisis. So many of them on our national radar, but none so pressing as the Garth Brooks gigs fiasco.

The whole world, apparently, is laughing at us.

No, it isn’t.

We can’t blame Timmy, though, for making a meal out of this light entertainment debacle. You see, while the Government may be more concerned about keeping the Irish economy from running on to the rocks again, Timmy and his colleagues just want to make sure that Ireland rocks.

It’s at times like this that thoughts turn to Bono.

He’d probably have something to say on the Banking Corporation Bill.

Three years in the making – if we want to talk about politicians sitting on their hands – and rammed through an uninterested Dáil in three hours yesterday.

But then, this is a complicated piece of legislative kit.

Richard Boyd Barrett was furious about its treatment, and he said as much in the Dáil. But he might as well have been talking to the wall, because when he was on his feet, Garth Brooks was putting on a show of his own in Tennessee and most of Leinster House was watching him online. We owe Bono an apology, by the way. When it comes to having a great welcome for yourself, Garth Brooks gave Bono, and the rest of us, an online masterclass in how to do it.

One can’t argue with the Stetsoned One about the need to revisit and “fix” our planning laws pertaining to concerts, but maybe Enda Kenny has better things to do than override the existing regulations so Brooks can do his five performances.

Unblemished record

Maybe he could revisit yesterday’s banking Bill, for example. Except he won’t. This new loans scheme has been underwritten by a €4 billion Government guarantee. Our main banks, with their unblemished records, will be handling the dosh.

“Absolutely shocking,” declared Boyd Barrett. It was bad enough that the Dáil didn’t get to discuss all of the amendments, “but the fact we have not even got to the issue of the guarantee is shocking. This is a €4 billion guarantee – after what guarantees did to this country, and the Minister has the right to give these guarantees to foreign and private investors.”

This might have been worth a bit more consideration than a few rushed hours before parliament goes off for the summer holidays.

Mary Lou McDonald spoke after Timmy Dooley’s plea to think of the economic damage that will be wrought if the concerts don’t go ahead.

Twisting the knife

Dooley twisted the knife by implying that the Government wasn’t addressing the issue because the event involved a country music singer. “Unlike the backbenchers in the Labour Party, I do not believe this is about a particular genre of entertainment,” he huffed. It was about revenue loss and disappointing hundreds of thousands of people.

“Intellectual snobbery,” chimed in Finian McGrath.

“This is about reputational damage,” concluded Dooley, who is one of the few Fianna Fáil survivors from the last government.

“This is a catastrophe in motion,” said Mary Lou.

But Sinn Féin’s deputy leader was talking about the crisis in Gaza. Now that’s a crisis. Which sort of put things in perspective.

Independent deputy Maureen O’Sullivan, who succeeded the late Tony Gregory in Dublin Central and who consistently goes out to bat for the concerns of people living in the north inner city when it is neither popular nor profitable, had no wish to join the Garth chorus.

“I wonder what it is doing for our international reputation that the national parliament, on several days this week, has discussed Garth Brooks at a time there is a homelessness crisis in the country and there are international incidents, such as that referred to in Gaza, and hundreds of girls being abducted by Boko Haram because they want an education.”

Singing victim

But sure, who wanted to listen to that? Not when Garth Brooks – he’s the victim in all this, according to himself – delighted us all by offering to meet the Taoiseach personally in an attempt to get his show back on the road.

“If the prime minister himself wants to talk to me I will crawl, swim. I will fly over there this weekend, sit in front of him. I will drop on my knees and beg for those 400,000 people to just have fun and let ’em come see.”

If there is to be a meeting, put us down for a ticket.

Beat that, Bono.

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