The Seanad has spoken - Rome hugely relieved
DAIL SKETCH:The pall of gloom over the Vatican City cleared when word filtered through from Seanad Éireann. His Holiness perked up no end.
“I thank the members of the Irish Seanad for their expressions of support and good wishes. I know now that what I am doing is the right thing,” is what he is supposed to have said when a breathless monsignor rushed into the papal apartments with the good news from Dublin.
Naturally, we turned to the Seanad yesterday morning to see if Benedict had been in contact yet, but the Cathaoirleach had nothing to report.
Those politicians in the Dáil hadn’t seen fit to mention the pope’s imminent retirement during their sitting on Tuesday, more concerned as they were with running the country.
So what was on the menu yesterday for Leaders’ Questions? Only mortgage debt, the promissory note deal and the lack of funding for children who require cochlear implants. This last topic was raised by the Sinn Féin leader, who said the provision of €4 million would be enough to transform the lives of profoundly deaf children who needed double implants.
Gerry Adams used the example of a child in his constituency “to personalise and humanise the issue”. He spoke of “Little Billy” who had to wait until he was 2½ before he got one implant, even though it was considered best practice to implant both ears.
This is due to funding shortcomings in Ireland.
“America,” declared Labour’s Eric Byrne, looking pointedly at Wee Gerry, who travelled to the States recently for an expensive medical procedure.
Showing steely discipline, the Taoiseach stuck strictly to the issue raised by Wee Gerry. “I hope Little Billy will be able to have his problem resolved in due course,” he replied, before giving a very detailed account of the cochlear implant programme in Ireland.
Enda could so easily have given in to temptation. He has proved weak in the Dáil when faced with the choice of giving Gerry Adams a straight answer or a cheap jibe about his past.
But not yesterday, not even when Little Billy’s predicament gave rise to thoughts of how fortunate it was for Wee Gerry – living on the average industrial wage – to have an Average Industrialist Sugar Daddy in America to pick up the tab for his US operation when the need arose.
Perhaps this commendable denial of his natural instinct to have a go at Adams was Enda’s nod to Ash Wednesday. Maybe he has decided to turn over a new leaf for Lent.
Either way, well done, Taoiseach. You’ll get your reward in heaven.
Which brings us back neatly to the Seanad and the news that the pope has decided to take early retirement at the age of 85.
A number of Senators had to address this shock development. Rome was listening.