Miriam Lord’s Week: Dáil end-of-term awards

And the three degrees award goes to: Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore

'Dragon's Den' Enterprise Award

Start-ups are springing up all over Leinster House as the SME sector experiences significant uplift on the political platform going forward following a mission-critical realignment of synergies in the independent provider space. Nonaligned TDs and Senators are joining forces ahead of the general election upturn to take advantage of favourable trading conditions.

At stake is a chance to join the next government and get hold of some real power. In the new session, expect them to start pumping out position papers, policies and promises as they hunt for suitable candidates to “unveil” to the cameras.

But it’s becoming a crowded market. We used to have a Technical Group and sundry Independents. That has been augmented by two new parties, an alliance and an array of canoe-paddlers waiting to decide whether to join up or stay solo.


The Ceann Comhairle lumped most of them into an assortment he calls “the Others”. Our award is shared between the Social Democrudders (Murphy, Shortall and Donnelly); the Renudders (Creighton’s Renua vehicle) and the Technicrudders (Technical Group trading as Independent Alliance.) We must stress: none of the above is interested in winning Dáil seats for the sake of it. It’s all about reform. Oh, yes.

Award for Services to Whistleblowing

Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Catherine Murphy.

Phil Hogan Award for Services to Trumpetblowing

The Government. In April, they released a spring statement and promptly abandoned Dáil business for statements on the statement and long speeches about the Coalition’s achievements. And they haven’t stopped blowing since.

Power of PR Award

It's a tie between Leo Varadkar and Alan "Legacy" Kelly. Varadkar has earned himself the well-crafted reputation for being a straight talker, while not saying much of note from his bed of nails in the Department of Health.

The Minister for the Environment has earned himself a well-crafted reputation as a man who gets things done, while not nailing down too many achievements. As the clock runs down on the 31st Dáil, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is proving a hard worker and a capable pair of hands, while her protégé Simon Harris is proving a formidable political performer.

Medal for Bravery

For exceptional courage and resolve in the face of debilitating bubble-blindness (a condition primarily affecting witnesses attending the banking inquiry), the award goes to former Fianna Fáil minister for finance Charlie McCreevy.

He struggled badly to recognise anything other than his own brilliance when he was called to testify. Did McCreevy believe there was a property bubble in the years after he left Irish politics in 2004 to go to Europe? He was unable to answer. McCreevy had to be reminded of his legal obligations and the chairman read him his rights. Finally, clearly pained, he responded bravely: “You could call it, I suppose, a bubble.”

Kerrygold Award for Buttering Up Councillors

This goes to those members of the Seanad seeking re-election shortly and needing votes from local authority members to get back to the mothership.

In the months to come, those councillors will be love-bombed in the Upper House as Senators fight for the rights of local representatives to improved pay and expenses.

Leinster House Plate for Backing the Wrong Horse

Won by the "We Were Right at the Time" syndicate of Sinn Féin, Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett. They put their shirts on a promising colt called Syriza; it turned out to be a gelding.

The winning connections have since been protesting they “laid off” the bet, and while they didn’t land their big gamble they had fancied “the Ordinary People of Greece” all along.

Friend of Rumpole Award

At a loose end? Rattling around the Law Library? Tired of the daily drudge in the law courts? Retirement beginning to drag?

A new opening has appeared for members and former members of the judiciary and inner bar. These days, any beak or silk worth their salt only has to stick out an arm and a commission of inquiry/investigation will pull up on the pavement and whisk them away.

The Opposition can’t stop demanding them. The Taoiseach can’t get enough of them.They are his Government’s version of the long finger. Enda shunts embarrassing or difficult issues into the senior- counsel sidings with gusto, then brazenly insists he is prevented from commenting any further because it’s all gone legal now. Which is rubbish. How’s his Fennelly investigation going? He can’t say.

The award goes to Enda Kenny.

‘Democratic Revolution Me Arse’ Trophy

The Sinn Féin leader caused conniptions for the Government Chief Whip and the Ceann Comhairle with his put-down of the Coalition's much-vaunted commitment to reform the workings of parliament. "Shame on you," roared a scandalised Paul Kehoe. "That language is not acceptable in the chamber," quivered Seán Barrett.

Our winner, Gerry Adams, pips Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who has been strong in calling out the Government's cavalier approach to parliamentary reform. Adams gets it for telling the truth with refreshing brevity.

Scone But Not Forgotten Award

Everything is about the election now. On all sides. The Government has smothered Dáil activity under a blanket of tedium and Leaders’ Questions has become one long yawn as it tries to focus on a good-news agenda. Amiable Enda has been putting himself about on radio and television but is careful not to put himself under pressure. He’s gone down the soft-focus route, working his way up and down the country dispensing handshakes and nuggets of largesse in classic Bertie Ahern fashion.

He popped up on TV3 one morning, smiling and flashing the dough. Not a care in the world as he pretended to do some baking with a woman from Odlums and addressed such important national issues as burning sausages and making jam. Election? What election? The award goes to the Government.

Most Creative Piece of Legislation

This was the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which had some interesting amendments. Speakers addressed issues such as dog-breeding regulations, issues concerning a park in Kerry and the monitoring of air quality. Oh, and the small matter of taking money from people’s social welfare to pay for water charges was also sneaked into its pages.

Catherine Murphy noted the legislation was the third Bill related to water services and part of a “very flawed process”. She said the first Bill in February 2013 was so heavily guillotined only one amendment was debated. Debate on the second Bill in December 2013 was restricted to three hours. “It was such an abuse of the process that the entire Opposition walked out . . . and here we are again taking more liberties with the process.”

Special Privileges Badge

And the award goes to . . . Actually, there isn’t one. Instead, we present a Special No Special Privileges Badge to Mr You Know Who, aka Redacted of Dublin 4, aka Mr Unmentionable of Malta, for sparking all- party anger when his lawyers tried to stop media outlets reporting comments about his finances made under privilege in the Dáil by Catherine Murphy.

The furore only (Site)served to draw more attention to Denis O’Brien and his wholly legitimate business interests. It also reminded us of O’Brien’s wonderful hair, a virile thatch of billionaire blondiness. It prompted Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s dad to don a Denis O’Brien wig, transforming his fortunes in the process. It’s only a matter of time before they’re handing them out at the Smurfit Business School graduation day.

Best Results Analysis Programme

The hands-down winner is Vincent Browne for his chaotic outside broadcast from the George pub after the same-sex marriage referendum. As the Yes votes piled up across the way at Dublin Castle, the pints piled up in the bar and the punditry was interspersed with song and dance routines from drag artistes.

Top that, John Bowman.

Peter Mathews Attempt to Snaffle Time Award

The Best Peter Mathews Attempt to Snaffle Time from an Unsympathetic Ceann Comhairle: “I am speaking under the general umbrella of proposed legislation, in the omnibus sense.”

Best Response: “What are you on about?” – Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

The Three Degrees Award

The Three Degrees (When Will We See You Again?) Prize goes to Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore, who are heading into the final parliamentary stretch having declared they won't be contesting the general election. Three former Labour leaders leaving in one go will leave a big hole in the party. It'll be a long time before we witness such a mass exodus of heavyweights again. (Unless the elephant enclosure in Dublin Zoo unexpectedly shuts down.)