Dáil Sketch: Claptrap and bedfellows make for tetchy start to new term

Even the normally mild-mannered deputies are getting hot under the collar

Dinny McGinley:  came under attack from Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dinny McGinley: came under attack from Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


It has been an inevitably tetchy beginning to the new Dáil term.

Nerves were frayed at times yesterday. Even the normally mild-mannered Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley lost his cool when he stood in for the Government in the mortgage crisis debate.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, who said it was time to get “down and dirty’’ with the banks. “The insolvency legislation refers to sustainable resolutions, but the Government does not appear to know what that means.’’

Cowen, who was concluding his speech, was reminded by Leas Cheann Comhairle Michael Kitt that his time allocation was up. “Deputy Cowen had a good innings.’’ Cowen said the Government also had a good innings and it was time it played the game properly. He said politics could be played when the banking inquiry commenced, but the people affected by the mortgage crisis must be helped.

Glaring at Cowen, the Minister of State said: “He has a neck to come here and say that.’’

Cowen said he had a responsibility to those who put him in the Dáil to explain the difficulties they faced because of the Government’s lack of action.

“I have listened as deputy Cowen’s colleagues make constructive suggestions, but his claptrap does not suit him,’’ said McGinley.

“It is not claptrap,’’ said Cowen. “It is claptrap and rubbish,’’ replied McGinley.

As the Leas Cheann Comhairle called the next speaker, Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, there was no stopping McGinley.

“Fianna Fáil was in bed with the banks,’’ he declared.

Dooley advised that “we should leave bedfellows out of this’’.

Earlier, Dooley had clashed with Fine Gael’s Tom Barry, who was involved in a late night incident in the Dáil chamber during the abortion legislation debate before the summer recess. Barry profusely apologised at the time.

He claimed yesterday that there was only funding for six months when the FG-Labour Coalition took over. The country would then fall over a financial cliff.

Dooley rose to ask if he could interject and respond to Barry’s assertion. “I will listen to what he has to say on his point of order,” Barry said.

Dooley insisted the claim there were only a few months funding, when the Government changed, was “a lie or an untruth’’ peddled by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and other Ministers.

“It is said that when one is explaining oneself, one is losing,’’ said Barry.

“Deputy Barry would know a fair bit about that,’’ replied Dooley.

Barry said: “I might but I certainly know when one is wrong, one puts up one’s hands and does not deny the facts.’’