Garda jobs on hold as Shatter and Collins do battle ahead of Brian Boru dilemma

Question time is a prime example of that soaring parry and retort

Dinny McGinley, Fine Gael TD, speaking in the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Leinster House Television

Dinny McGinley, Fine Gael TD, speaking in the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Leinster House Television


Where, but to the Dáil would you go for rigorous intellectual discourse?

Question time is a prime example of that soaring parry and retort, a verbal tennis game of pithy ideas and well worked out potential solutions to the major issues of the day. You would think. Yesterday’s justice questions was a fine example of what we’ve come to expect. Fianna Fáil spokesman Niall Collins was not happy with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s responses about garda recruitment.

Clarity, he demanded, accusing the Minister of “dodging and weaving” and claiming the Minister “is usually the type of man who digs in. This time, he is the type of man who engages in U-turns”.

Never shy to respond to the slightest provocation, the Minister retorted: “ The Deputy has yet again illustrated that he has a neck as thick as a rhinoceros‘s behind.”

Collins was outraged, at the Minister’s “ exceptionally personal insult”.

The Leas Cheann Comhairle refused to engage. “I could liken the Minister to a lot of characters,” said Collins.

“You personally insult everyone. It’s why you’re off-side with everyone, even the Judiciary, your former colleagues.”

He was on a roll. “You should address the issue, not me.”

Conciliatory to a fault the Minister replied: “I am sorry if I touched a sensitive zone.”

“You did not ,” Collins couldn ’t help himself.

“ The Deputy accused me of dodging and weaving on issues,” said the Minister.

“Absolutely,” said Collins.

The Minister: “And I am entitled to respond. He is classically dodging, weaving and trying to reinvent history.”

And on it went, that brand of intellectual rigour. By the end garda recruitment policy was no clearer. A result?

Earlier it was sweetness and light, under the influence of mellifluously voiced Minister of State Dinny McGinley.

Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara reminded everyone next year would be the millennium anniversary of the death of Brian Ború at the battle of Clontarf in 1014.

A commemorative medal, the Labour man called for. But Clare is a long, long way from the Pale. Ah yes, but Brian Ború had his capital at Kincora, a settlement at the top of the hill in Killaloe, Co Clare.

Ború fans in Killaloe have asked the Central Bank to produce a commemorative medal.

The Minister for good news told the TD of plans to mark the battle with a €20 gold proof coin, weighing 0.5 gms and with a total issue of 10,000.

And the gold will keep pouring, to also mark the centenary of the lockout and the 50th anniversary of JFK’s visit to Ireland.

As for Brian Ború, the Minister asked the deputy if he wanted the great man’s birth place or place of his “heroic death” to be commemorated on the medal.

He then added a further dilemma, asking if he knew were Brian Ború’s ashes lay. The Minister answered his own question “in the ancient city of Armagh.”

Kerry TD Tom Fleming pointed out that Brian Ború went to school on Inish fallen Island on the lakes of Killarney. “He used to pass my door on his way to and from school,” he said, getting in on the action. This medal is getting very crowded: Killaloe, Clontarf, Armagh and now Kerry.

And wasn’t the battle of Clontarf actually in Glasnevin?