Soldiers of Destiny have spring in their step but Quinn is quick to call 'Time'
SKETCH:FIANNA FÁIL’S 4 per cent rise in the Irish Times opinion poll put a spring in its step yesterday.
Clare TD Timmy Dooley was in combative mood when he made it clear that the Irish people wanted results from Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Brussels bank-bailout battle.
He claimed no progress had been made on a comprehensive deal on bank debt for Ireland, with tough talk at home but silence where it mattered.
Addressing Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, who was taking Opposition Leaders’ Questions for the Government, Dooley called for resolute action.
“The Taoiseach needs to be heard in Brussels as in Belmullet, and in Berlin as well as in Ballyhaunis.”
Labour’s Emmet Stagg was unimpressed. “It is a good script. The joke department wrote it.”
Dooley wanted to know if Kenny would be asking for a timeline for a deal.
Quinn was optimistic about the Brussels outcome.
He noted that Kenny was the only one of the 27 leaders of the EU states who had his “profile” on the cover of the European edition of Time magazine.
Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell remarked: “It was Time magazine, by the way, Deputy Mattie McGrath.” (McGrath recently confused Time with Playboy in his rush to have a go at Kenny).
“Time sold out in Belmullet,” said Fianna Fáil’s John Browne.
Unimpressed by the levity, Quinn said: “Many of the deputies may laugh, but I assure them that the other heads of government, some of them from substantially sized countries, would give their right eyes for that kind of recognition.”
Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary hit back. “The people of Ireland would give their right eyes for a deal.”
McGrath added: “People cannot eat a magazine for breakfast.”
Dooley said he was glad Quinn had raised the Time cover, suggesting that the Taoiseach was on a Time-inspired lap of honour without meeting a single European leader on bank debt.
“I would have preferred it had he toured the capitals of Europe to flesh out the deal instead of running around the world’s media organisations in the hope that they might have a spare front page at a dead time of the year so that he might present it as a major achievement for Ireland.”
Perhaps, he said, “the Taoiseach will be on the front of Vanity Fair the next time”.
Quinn raised Fianna Fáil’s chequered history and warned against referring to “a lap of honour”.
He recalled the political swansong of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
“The House can long remember the long extended lap by that party,” said Quinn. “It was longer than Frank Sinatra’s last concert.”
Labour’s Aodhán Ó Riordáin rubbed it in. “Remember Bertie.”
Quinn observed: “We had the long lap of honour for Bertie and a hand-over in slow motion while this economy was going down the tubes.”
Dark memories continue to haunt the Soldiers of Destiny. But yesterday’s news provided promise of a comeback, even if one opinion poll swallow never made an electoral summer.