Dáil Sketch: Roll up, roll up for Paschal’s grand tour of Europe

Audience of three TDs for Minister’s narrative

  Paschal Donohoe:   The enthusiastic exponent of Europe sought to ensure he had the Opposition’s attention. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Paschal Donohoe: The enthusiastic exponent of Europe sought to ensure he had the Opposition’s attention. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


And now for something completely different . . . This is a whistleblower, GSOC, confidential recipient, Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner-free zone.

Instead, it’s time for some table quiz questions about that great geographical entity, Europe. How big is Europe? Ten million square miles. How many people? 750 million. When was it first mentioned as a concept? In the time of Homer in the 5th century.

It’s amazing what you learn in Dáil Éireann.

And did you know Europe spreads from the Azores to Severny island? Severny? Wikipedia says it’s Russian, the north island of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

All this fabulous information (apart from where Severny island is) came from Minister of State for none other than European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe.

He wanted to discuss “the why, the how and the what” of Ireland’s engagement with Europe. A fascinating topic that brought all of three TDs into the Dáil. And that included Paschal.

In fairness, the attendance rose by 33 per cent when Richard Boyd Barrett dropped in.

Of course, they were competing for attention with Rehab’s chief executive, Angela Kerins. Over at the Public Accounts Committee, Angela was defending her salary from those such as Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald who noted it was higher than US president Barack Obama’s and the Taoiseach’s.

She insisted she was a private citizen who had waived her privacy to reveal her salary which was not paid by the taxpayer.

An observer remarked that based on a rough calculation of that €240,000 salary, allowing for weekends and 21 days holiday a year, and a nine-hour day, Rehab’s boss earned about €805.55 for the seven hours and 15 minutes of the meeting.

Rehab director of lotteries John McGuire certainly earned his as yet undisclosed wage when he used every opportunity for product placement to repeatedly hold up Rehab scratchcards. Sometimes there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Meanwhile, back in the Dáil, Paschal’s remarkable tale of Europe continued. So professorial was it that it required a quick check of Nealon’s Guide to confirm his former career as a teacher. But no, Paschal, it turns out, was sales manager for a multinational company. If he ever gives up the day job...

Paschal was still talking. He quoted Scottish philosopher David Hume’s “it’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place... it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood”.

Oops, forgot, no mention of the war.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley was so interested he was engrossed in his mobile phone. Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe was writing.

The enthusiastic exponent of Europe sought to ensure he had the Opposition’s attention and chose to compliment them.

“I acknowledge the work of Deputies Dooley and Crowe in travelling abroad to represent Ireland, as well as representing their political parties and constituents.”

And the response? Timmy remained glued to his phone. Sean had stopped writing, but the head was down.

But Timmy can most certainly multitask. On the phone but listening. He heard the compliment because it was returned. Timmy said that Paschal “has shown considerable zeal for developing Ireland’s position in Europe... The approach he has taken is the correct one and I wish him well with it.”

Peace in our time.