Summer break-up of Dáil for the birds

Seanad told Dublin seagulls have lost the run of themselves completely

Nobody was spared this Hitchcockian nightmare as the birds attacked.  And what was particularly galling for the politicians is that there was no pecking order.

Nobody was spared this Hitchcockian nightmare as the birds attacked. And what was particularly galling for the politicians is that there was no pecking order.

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 01:00

They couldn’t escape Leinster House fast enough. Can’t blame them. We weren’t too far behind.

It was carnage as people left. The ushers had to escort terrified TDs and journalists out in small batches to Kildare Street, protecting them from the aerial onslaught with large golf umbrellas. Several toupees were snatched.

An emergency ban on 99s was imposed by the authorities after a senior Government spokesman had his Flake snaffled on the plinth.

Nobody was spared this Hitchcockian nightmare as the birds attacked.

And what was particularly galling for the politicians is that there was no pecking order.

The Fine Gael women, who have had a terrible week, were severely traumatised. “It was bad enough on Tuesday when the Taoiseach s*** all over us with the junior minister jobs, now the seagulls are doing the same” wailed one them.

The hero of the hour was plucky Kerry Senator, Ned O’Sullivan, who told the Upper House about the terror seagulls on the rampage in Dublin, warning his country colleagues about the danger in the Dublin skies.

He told the Seanad that the Dublin seagulls have “lost the run of themselves completely.”

(It seems they’re as bad as the Dublin media – another motley crew of undesirables frequently denounced by Senators and TDs.)

The brazen birds are doing things like taking lollipops from babies, said Senator O’Seagullivan, omitting to mention the ones which swoop down between the buildings in Leinster House to snaffle the ducklings in the little pond.

Senator O’Seagullivan, who is from the literary town of Listowel and was a close friend of John B’s, recalled an essay by the great American humourist Robert Benchley, entitled “Down with Pigeons.” The author thought that pigeons had it in for him and were always on alert, no matter where in the world, to do him down with their droppings. ”

Against pigeons

Now, I have nothing against pigeons – I can take or leave pigeons, but I am very much against seagulls” declared O’Sullivan, in a stylish segue to his main topic.

As it turned out, there was quite a bit of support for his call to the Minister for the Environment to address the capital’s seagull problem. Maybe not in the chamber, where everyone laughed, but outside it.

As the Dáil and Seanad wound down until September, members finished their political year by swapping seagull horror stories.

A fitting way to officially usher in the silly season.

The Dáil had been scheduled to sit until 7 last night, but thanks to increased, er, efficiencies on the part of deputies, the politicians cleared their work list with four hours to spare.

They passed three Bills before midday. The House rose for the summer recess in the afternoon. All done and dusted.

Which came as a surprise to nobody. Sittings resume on September 17th at 2.30 in the afternoon. By then, having worked themselves to the point of exhaustion in their constituencies over the intervening two months, the TDs will drag themselves back to parliament, desperately in need of a good rest and a good blast of seagull song.

Opposition request

But before everything could be wrapped up yesterday, there came the traditional Opposition request not to adjourn so soon.

Yesterday, this task fell to Sinn Féin, with party leader Gerry Adams asking for a special debate today to discuss the crisis in Gaza.

They pushed the matter to a vote, having sent word out beforehand that their TDs would “make a protest” in the chamber if they lost. And so it came to pass.

The Government won the vote. Gerry rose to his feet, which came as something of a disappointment to journalists who had been hoping that the promised protest would be of the sit-down variety.

“I ask you to invite the Dáil to stand for one minute in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the Middle East,” said Gerry, as his colleagues produced photocopies of the Palestinian flag.

Of course, everyone stood. Mary Lou McDonald asked about the crisis in Gaza last week – why didn’t she ask for time to be put aside to debate it then, rather than the party waiting until the last day?

Perhaps Joan should have agreed to the four hour debate.

That would have denied Sinn Féin their effective political stunt.