Agreeing to agree and disagree is the answer to all our questions

Wed, Mar 18, 2009, 00:00

NEWTON'S OPTIC:JOHN PLOUGHMAN: Good evening and welcome to this special last-ever edition of An Riposte. On the panel tonight we have Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Pat Bogman, Fine Gael senior spokesman Dermot Grocer, Union of Quango Workers and Non-Workers chairman Mack Looney, anti-poverty pro-children anti-racism campaigner Mona Lott and Sunday supplement socialite Hosanna de Burger.

Our first question is from Robert Plant, who is certainly not a party press officer.

Plant: Would the panel agree with me, and is there anything else each member of the panel would like to add?

Bogman: I would agree with the questioner. In fact, I think we can all agree that consensus is the only way forward as we all face the challenges which confront us all, and which we all agree are the fault of no one at all.

Grocer: I would also agree with the questioner, especially in the case of pensioners, parents, taxpayers, babies, small businesses, carers, people in care and people who are just being very careful ahead of a possible election.

Looney: I agree with the questioner and the last two answers. But I would go further, and agree that building consensus in society means partnership, and that means meeting the social partners in a building and agreeing to everything.

Lott: Well, I don’t see how anyone can agree to anything while innocent Palestinians are being piped into Shannon from British submarines instead of being processed offshore by Hugo Chávez. Or rather, I don’t see how anyone can agree to anything except everything I agree with.

De Burger: I’ve just been to Mauritius!

Ploughman: That brings us neatly on to our next question, which is from Kerry Ringer, who is certainly not a pressure group lobbyist.

Ringer: Would the panel disagree with me, and is there anything else each member of the panel would like to add?

Bogman: I’m afraid I have to disagree with the questioner. There is simply no place for that kind of opinion in modern Ireland and there is very little place for it in Fianna Fáil’s Ireland either, at least until we’ve had a few pints and we don’t think anyone is listening.

Grocer: I also have to disagree with the questioner, especially in the case of nurses, patients, teachers, pupils, lecturers, students, gardaí and criminals. Or should that be victims?

Looney: I disagree with the questioner. But I would go further, and disagree with the false distinction between public-sector answers and private-sector answers, which has been stoked up by right-wing panellists in the media.

Lott: What the previous answer overlooks is that the very act of asking us to agree or disagree is itself a false paradigm of the media-industrial complex, designed to set ordinary people against each other while the global corporatist hegemony blockades Cuba and fluoridates our benefits. We will never have true equality in this country until we can all agree to disagree with everyone, except the Equality Authority.

De Burger: Is there a party after this? I was told there’d be a party.

Ploughman: And that takes us to our final question, which is from Patsy Lackey, who is certainly not a studio runner.

Lackey: Does the panel realise that this is the jokey question at the end?

Panel: Ho ho ho.

Director: Cut!