Dáil Sketch: House’s final countdown to Christmas
Muted atmosphere with a smidgen of crankiness
Gerry Adams: “When Sinn Féin objects to some proposals on the Order of Business, it is not because we are trying to hold it up but to ensure proper scrutiny,” he said loftily. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Coughs sounded considerably softened yesterday morning when the Dáil staggered into action for the penultimate sitting before the Christmas break.
There had been a few parties the night before, with Fianna Fáil and Labour treating the media to festive drinks.
The atmosphere was rather muted in the chamber. A touch of crankiness crept in.
Because he’s in Brussels today, the Taoiseach took the opportunity to wish everyone (except the press) compliments of the season.
He had a special word of appreciation for the long suffering Ceann Comhairle “for his patience in some difficult and contentious issues that were raised here over the past 12 months”.
Sean Barrett will be taking himself off to lie down in a darkened room until hostilities resume on January 15th.
The Fianna Fáil leader also wished Enda a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
“I will do my best to ensure it is peaceful,” he promised. In particular, he hoped the Ceann Comhairle would enjoy his break. The main bone of contention yesterday was the Water Services Bill. The Opposition protested that it was being rammed through the House without sufficient debate.
Crowded high ground
“It is an unprecedented level of guillotining,” complained Micheál Martin, to no avail. So much for their “democratic revolution”.
Gerry Adams was equally unimpressed.
“When Sinn Féin objects to some proposals on the Order of Business, it is not because we are trying to hold it up but to ensure proper scrutiny,” he said loftily.
Joe Higgins tried to muscle in: “Can I object as well?”
“No, you can’t,” replied the Ceann Comhairle.
But he objected anyway.
It has to be done, insisted the Taoiseach. “I’m sure you don’t want to be here next week.”
“Never mind that old bluff,” snorted Barry Cowen.
“You’ve obviously no problem coming in here next Wednesday,” said Aengus “Amazeyballs” Ó’Snodaigh to the Taoiseach.
“Will we bring Santy in with us?” asked his colleague, Seán Crowe.
Enda ignored them.
Just one long statement to make to the Dáil about today’s European Council meeting, then a round of interviews to mark the end of year and the Taoiseach would be through the gate and gone.
But not before Micheál Martin had a go at him over the Government’s performance in Europe.
He noted the Taoiseach’s silence at Michael Noonan’s statement “that he has effectively given up on retrospective bank recapitalisation”.
This was “a complete reversal of the policy of the past three years” but had been buried by the Government’s ongoing media campaign.
“A commentator recently described the Minister as a “master of misdirection in his handling of the media”. The tactic is now being deployed by the “entire Government.”
Enda went in to bat for his Minister.
“He told a very good story about the turkeys in . . . ”
But the FF leader didn’t let him finish, so we didn’t get to hear the yarn.
Instead, he recalled how Noonan, when asked what he was looking for from Europe, replied: “ ‘It’s clear you’ve never been to the fair of Glin or sold a calf. Sure if I had told them the minimum, that’s what they would give me’.
“Last week, it was revealed that in spite of his experience selling calves and visiting the fair of Glin, he had got exactly nothing.”
Enda retorted: “As the Deputy will be aware, you want to be a good tangler when you goes there.”
We lost him at that point.
Matters got even more baffling during Topical Issues, when Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley appeared to hold forth on “the need to ensure that EU cabbage rules are enforced here”.
He was, in fact, talking about something called “cabotage.” Which isn’t a posh word in Ennis for cabbage, but something to do with shipping and air transport rights within countries.
It’s definitely time for a break.