Miriam Lord: The Dáil end-of-term awards

Who was best Minister? Best politician? Biggest disappointment? Cutest hoor?


Best Minister

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are busy pretending not to notice that a vacancy for the leadership is on the horizon. For a job well planned and well done, Heather Humphreys gets the gong for her assured stewardship of the 1916 centenary commemorations.

When she was appointed Minister for the Arts two years ago, the project was behind schedule and lacked direction. Heather got stuck in, met all the parties involved and demanded results. This was a delicate operation with a long list of interested parties waiting to be insulted or outraged if it wasn’t handled properly. What we got was a nationwide programme of events, with lots of community involvement and a special weekend in the capital that will be remembered for decades.

Best politician

Once the election was over, he played a clever game, held his nerve and ended up with a tasty deal – power without all the responsibility. By agreeing to “facilitate” a minority Fine Gael-led Government, he is, in effect, the extra man at Enda’s Cabinet table. Perhaps they should put an empty chair there, as a reminder.

Scariest moment

Conor Lenihan

As the results came in and voters began to wonder what sort of Dáil they had foisted upon themselves, Lenihan was struck by a thought (he wasn’t injured). “Remember the ad: ‘Don’t let Fianna Fáil back to haunt you?’ Well . . .” he said, putting on a scary voice and waving his arms over his head, “we’re ba-aack!”

Darwin award

It’s all down to God.

Support for Danny came earlier in the year when the Taoiseach told the Dáil, after large parts of the country disappeared under floodwater, “I am not God. I cannot predict the extent of rainfall.”

Biggest disappointment

Stephen Donnelly

Violet Elizabeth Bott award

Nicknamed “Big Bawls” after he reportedly cried at a parliamentary party meeting when accused of leaking to the media, Kelly did a Violet Elizabeth Bott (of Just William fame) and threamed and threamed ’til he was thick on the day he was re-elected, frightening the horses in Tipperary with his pumped up act of celebration.

Then, when he wasn’t considered for the leadership, he threamed and threamed until he was so thick he didn’t turn up for Brendan Howlin’s celebration. But he’s over it now.

Gerry Adams longevity award

Enda Kenny

I Couldn’t Possibly Comment award

Winston Churchtown, who goes by the title of Lord Ross. The Minister for Transport, who is not the leader of the Independent Alliance because it is not a party, was asked before the election about possible ministerial jobs in the offing.

“We haven’t decided about that, we haven’t made any decision about that at all, ah, and I think that will probably, em, that’ll be a decision which will be made – if it’s appropriate – at the time, by the people elected, ah, so, there’s that, but look, there are two points of view on that. I don’t think we’re sold on either.

“One is, yah, is get into cabinet and do what can be done to ensure that you get your policies implemented and your priorities put in place, and the other is that you’re better staying outside and not be captured and becoming an insider in the cabinet, which has happened to so many parties in the past, and, you know, people got in there, they’ve taken the goodies and succumbed to temptation and that’s something we will have to consider, certainly.” So the alliance considered it for weeks and weeks, and Winston Churchtown, having wrestled with his conscience, walked away with a senior ministry and a big smile on his face. Sidekick Finian McGrath played air guitar in the chamber after he was given a junior ministry and a high-chair at Cabinet.

Most attempts to propose Enda for taoiseach

Noel Rock

Best use of irony

Joan BurtonFrances Fitzgerald

Overstatement of the session

Flushed with success

Finian, meanwhile, was being love-bombed by senior Fine Gael figures during the government negotiations. “I can’t even go to the jacks without being followed by a Minister.”

Speedy McGrathlez award

Tweet of the session

Best dressed

Best suggestion

Eamon Ryan

Was it such an outrageous thing to say?