Mary Lou sets out to wreck Enda’s digital buzz and burst his warped bubble
Doherty trumpets Anglo tapes but disappoints
Mary Lou McDonald: “It’s very clear that you live in some kind of warped bubble in respect of these matters,” she said to Enda Kenny, who had expressed confidence in Minister for Health James Reilly. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/THE IRISH TIMES
Crack or craic – whatever way you choose to spell it, Enda is fond of it. But not in a mayor of Toronto way. His people have now taken to documenting on the Twitter machine his fun-filled days as Taoiseach. It makes for deliciously LOLsome viewing, as Enda’s new media chums might say.
Scooting from one gig to another showcasing a dazzling repertoire of chin-juts and handshakes, he flits commandingly through a kaleidoscope of blurry lights and atmospheric darkness to a soundtrack of electronic jazz.
It’s called “Outer Orbit” by an outfit called Revolution Void, the credits tell us. Is there a message we’re missing there?
Anyway, it’s all very edgy for Enda.
Then Mary Lou comes into the Dáil and wrecks his digital buzz by calling him a joker and dismissing his defence of the Minister for Heath as a joke.
Not that the deputy leader of Sinn Féin was surprised to hear him express confidence in James Reilly after she joined the Fianna Fáil leader in raising a letter from the bosses of four hospitals criticising cuts in the health budget.
“It’s very clear that you live in some kind of warped bubble in respect of these matters,” she concluded. Perhaps unwisely, as everyone knows that people in warped bubbles shouldn’t throw stones.
The Fine Gael backbenchers bridled.
“Waaah-ript bubble? A waaah-ript bubble?” howled Meath’s Ray Butler. “Where’s Gerry Adams? Has he disappeared?”
Indeed and he had.
The Sinn Féin leader disappeared yesterday morning on a transatlantic flight to do some business with Friends of Sinn Féin in America – where the fundraisers are most generous and the health system is fantastic for those who can afford to avail of it.
Still, he left Leaders’ Questions in the very capable hands of Mary Lou McDonald, who savaged the Taoiseach without salt.
And a little earlier, her colleague Pearse Doherty caused a stir in the chamber by announcing his party had come by a brand new batch of secret Anglo tapes. (Just in case people were still concentrating on those IRA tapes played during Monday night’s disturbing television documentary on The Disappeared.)
Pearse unveiled news of his party’s scoop just before Leaders’ Questions. Journalists rushed on to the gallery to hear the details.
But there were none, save Doherty’s “important statement” that the party has been anonymously sent further instalments of the secret recordings involving the senior “goys” at Anglo. He is sitting on the best part of an hour of audio and almost all the information contained therein hasn’t been heard before.
“On the advice of senior counsel, we have taken the decision not to release the tapes at this time,” he declared. However, he had “personally hand-delivered” them yesterday morning to the Garda Commissioner and the governor of the Central Bank. Although he’s kept a copy with the intention of holding a grand premiere some time in the future.
Talk about a damp squib.
Enda shoved in beside the Minister for Finance as Doherty spoke gravely of the bombshell he hopes to drop at a later date. They shared a joke.
The disappointed journalists weren’t laughing. Pearse had dangled a warped bauble in front of them and then snatched it away.
“Pity you wouldn’t hand information on The Disappeared to the gardaí while you were at it,” snorted Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, referring to the previous day’s scandal.
But the deputy for Donegal South West wasn’t quite finished with Fianna Fáil. “It has always been my view that the then Fianna Fáil government had more information on the bank prior to the guarantee than it has previously disclosed,” Pearse concluded, without elaborating further.
Micheál Martin gave a rueful sigh and we were reminded of the time a miffed Bertie Ahern told the Dáil, “if the cat had kittens youse’d blame me for dat too”.
Even Mary Lou – having finished tearing strips off the Government over the effect of the health cuts – couldn’t sit down before taking a swipe at the Fianna Fáil leader. James Reilly was “continuing with the same failed approach of the last government and the failed approach of Deputy Micheál Martin in his time”.
Poor put-upon Micheál saw the funny side when the House finally turned to more collegiate matters – the retirement of chief usher Tom McGrath after 37 years of public service.
As tributes were paid from all sides to the quiet Tipperary man, Micheál noted that Tom started work in 1977. “A momentous year. I accept no responsibility for that as I was just a 17-year-old.”
Speaking of blame, James Reilly padded down the stairs to the front bench and prepared for another roasting from across the floor.
However, as the Taoiseach tried to explain to the Opposition that Reilly was not commenting on the letter from the four hospital CEOs because it was sent to the HSE as opposed to him, it was hard not to recall how previous administrations consistently dodged answering any questions of the state of the health system because it was a matter for the HSE.
Life as normal in the warped bubble.