Sure every day is Christmas Day in Leinster House
Dáil SketchThey’re messin’ with our heads more than usual in Leinster House.
Outside on the lawn yesterday, men wandered about trailing lengths of cable and testing the sod for firmness. Things were being hammered into the ground.
Getting ready for the imminent arrival of the Christmas tree while everybody else is gearing up for a slash ‘n’ burn budget next week.
And this morning, Santa is due at the Kildare Street gates for an event which will “bring joy, fun and laughter to the Dáil in a spirit of good will for the festive season”. (Try telling that to the members of the two Government parties currently involved in a tense abortion legislation standoff. Joy is at a premium.)
Nonetheless, Santa and sundry helpers will be arriving in a one-horse open sleigh to collect wish-list letters from TDs and Ministers and take them away to the North Pole.
The letters, that is. Not the TDs and Ministers. Santa isn’t that good.
Anyway, they wouldn’t all fit in the “one-horse up in sleigh” as the press release charmingly puts it.
This morning’s happy event is organised by WALK, the long-established Dublin South West-based community organisation for people with disability. It’ll make a nice change for TDs to exude good will and fun, as opposed to the normal dose of vitriol.
And now that the men in dungarees are dusting down the national baubles and checking the fuses on the official fairy lights, it must be nearly time for the daily appearance of turkey and ham in the Dáil canteen.
This is completely mad.
It’s Budget Day next Wednesday, when Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan will do a smash and grab on poor Santa, take all his pressies meant for the deserving folk and give them away to a dead bank.
And then what will happen to the wish-lists sent off today by the politicians? Up in smoke, they’ll go.
Naturally the Taoiseach – he’s an unashamed cheesy Chrimbo sweater type of guy – is unhappy.
As he said during Leaders’ Questions yesterday morning: “this, unfortunately, is the fallout from the bank guarantee”. And on Wednesday, Slash Howlin will reduce the number of reindeers pulling the sleigh and Tax Noonan will push up the VRT on it.
That’s after all the difficulties they have already had to impose on citizens.
Micheál Martin is constantly pointing to the vulnerable people in society who are suffering as a result of their Government-sanctioned double act. “The past 12 months have not been a good year for people with disabilities. It has been a year of cutbacks, fear, anxiety, worry, frustration and anger,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.
And whose fault is that? Led by the Taoiseach, Opposition deputies vociferously and predictably placed the blame on Micheál’s party.
“Because Fianna Fáil bankrupted the country,” shouted an angry Eric Byrne, who has to face Santa and the people from WALK today.
Independent TD Finian McGrath was granted an early North Pole request after he protested about the cutting of services.
Besides looking for more exposure on television, cartons of cigarettes and a surprise, Finian had asked Santa, “please can I be ordered out of the Dáil by the Ceann Comhairle and storm out in high dudgeon before he gets a chance to change his mind?”
McGrath put on quite a show, refusing to sit down and ignoring requests to quieten down. “Finian, put the onion back in your pocket!” shouted FG backbencher Frankie Feighan, unimpressed by his emotional display.
The Captain of the Guard materialised at the top of the steps, ready to enforce the Ceann Comhairle’s orders.
But he didn’t have to escort the Dublin North Central TD from the chamber as the miscreant happily saw himself out. He missed the missile fired by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who raised the subject of tax relief on second homes for Ministers.
These days, people who own a second property are taxed on it. Ministers, on the other hand, get a tax break on it. What’s that all about, wondered Doherty, who was also intrigued to know the identity of the 13 individuals in the current Government who wrote to the Revenue Commissioners to avail of the perk.
Those Cabinet members present yesterday didn’t look pleased to be in the spotlight. Brendan Howlin, who had a buffer of Frances Fitzgerald, James Reilly, Big Phil Hogan and Pat Rabbitte between himself and Enda, nearly fell out of his seat as he leaned across to give the Taoiseach details of the arrangement.
Whatever about the tax benefit for Ministers — laundry costs were mentioned, Enda said Pearse was claiming multiples of the figure in his own allowances.
No matter what happens on Wednesday, it seems Santa always comes to Leinster House.