Deputies wary of Higgins as they agreed it's not a holiday but a recess

 

DÁIL SKETCH:IT WAS a Gubu day in the Dáil – giddy, unpredictable, boisterous and (virtually) unprecedented.

Not a whisper emerged from a single TD after Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett put to the House that the Dáil “on its rising today shall adjourn until Tuesday, 18th September, at 2 pm”.

Actually someone could be heard murmuring “ssshhh, ssshhh” for fear an unruly TD might utter something that could be misinterpreted as “not agreed”.

When the Ceann Comhairle intoned “agreed” there was a whoop of cheering, applause and much relieved laughter.

They had limped to the finish line of this session of the 31st Dáil. There was no posturing about long holidays, a lesson learned perhaps after the Taoiseach called the Opposition’s bluff last year when they protested against a week’s recess.

He said “okay, we’ll sit next week, so” or words to that effect, stunning his own side as well as the Opposition and Oireachtas staff. A shocked and bemused Dáil sat the following week.

This year’s two-month recess is a week longer than last year but three weeks shorter than in the past.

One enthusiastic radio reporter on Wednesday surveyed Opposition parties to see if there would be any objections to the eight-week recess.

“There won’t be a f***ing peep out of us,” a representative from one party said, bluntly reflecting the views of all TD.

And every TD will insist it’s not a holiday, it’s a recess.

Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Ó Cuív, newly rescued in the reshuffle from being the party’s only backbencher, phrased it this way: “There is no way we can reflect the views of the people in this House if we are not out among the people around the country.”

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins did cause a minor blip and much ribald comment when the Ceann Comhairle asked the first time if the eight-week recess was agreed.

One observer noted he was in his “holiday cardi”, a woollen zipped piece, when he took to his feet.

Joe looked over at the Government benches dismissively.

“The little elves of Fine Gael and Labour have no need to worry,” he said. “I will not engage in the posturing that their elders engaged in here for 12 years on the issue of the adjournment.”

Cue more roaring and heckling. The Ceann Comhairle told them “schoolchildren leaving sixth class would behave better than what is happening here”.

But Joe wanted the Tánaiste to publicly defend vulnerable elderly and unemployed against the “threatening” of the IMF.

The Tánaiste told him the vulnerable would be protected and not to be “scaremongering”.

The only scare for TDs was that Joe might call a vote on the recess. Relief all around for the elves on both sides that he didn’t.