No help for Kenny as home truths break cosy spell
The backbenchers squirmed.
Enda adopted his favourite fallback position when under fire from the Shinners. He brought up the recent statements from convicted IRA bomber Dolours Price about Gerry Adams’s alleged links to terrorist acts.
“Oh, for God’s sake, would you for once answer a question in this house?” roared an exasperated Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
This provided a welcome interlude for Government TDs. They roared back with gusto.
But it didn’t last. Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance made sure of that.
“In the gallery today, we have about 50 or 60 home helps who provide vital services of care and support and back-up to our elderly and disabled citizens across the country . . .”
The chamber went deathly quiet. Enda was knocked for six.
Boyd Barrett outlined a litany of cutbacks.
“Most of these home helps here work for voluntary, not-for-profit organisations,” he continued, as the crowd in the public gallery burst into applause and cheered.
The Ceann Comhairle stood and called for silence. An usher shouted “no more clapping”. As the home helps listened intently to his reply, Enda stressed that he respected the work that they do.
“I meet many of them myself. I know the work they do in respect of calling to people who need care and attention, both in the morning, midday, evening and whatever . . .” Eyes rolled heavenwards on the gallery.
It is the Government’s intention, said Enda, that those who needed care got care. “It’s the best care that is given to them and that is the Minister’s intention.”
Boyd Barrett countered by saying he had a strange way of showing it. The home helps were already badly paid, their hours were being cut and scrutinised by the minute.
But the Taoiseach was adamant that where home help was needed, it was given. “They have never been bound by your clock.” Above in the gallery, they certainly didn’t look convinced.
Where people needed help, “they get it”, declared the Taoiseach.
“A half-an-hour?” retorted the ULA’s Joan Collins.
The Ceann Comhairle called time on Leaders’ Questions and moved on to other business, but an uneasy silence hung over the chamber. Government deputies couldn’t get away quickly enough. They know how the cuts are affecting the housebound in their constituencies.
Yesterday, that reality intruded on their cosy Dáil club.
Good enough for them.