No Let Up for Cabinet Birthday Boys

Enda and Eamon embrace positve aging

Happy Birthdays to you.

Happy Birthdays to you.

Happy Birthdays Enda ‘n Eamon, happy birthdays to youse!

You have to hand it to Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State at the Department of Health. She has arranged a lovely bash today to mark this special occasion for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.


Kathleen has a big heart.

Truly, we need more women in politics.

The do will be held in Government Buildings this morning.

There’s probably going to be cake and balloons, although with the current financial situation, we understand Brendan Howlin vetoed plans for a bouncy castle.

Invitations went out via the email this week for Kathleen’s tribute to the birthday boys, thoughtfully entitled “The Launch of the National Positive Aging Strategy.”

A proper treat for the birthday boys.

We were so preoccupied working out what we might wear we could scarcely concentrate on Leaders’ Questions yesterday.

There was mixed bill of fare on offer.

The Fianna Fáil leader spoke passionately about the fodder crisis. Although, looking around the ranks of the well upholstered in the Dáil chamber, access to fodder didn't appear to be a particularly pressing problem.

Then the penny dropped. Micheál Martin was talking about the farming community.

“There is no fodder left in the country and it is very, very serious,” he declared. Did the Taoiseach agree that the situation has reached crisis point and a national task force must established up to deal with the problem?

(Micheál, back to his days as a minister, has always had a great devotion to setting up expert groups.)

Enda indicated he was aware that the coming weeks will be critical for the farmers, but if they contact their banks they will get finance to help them buy in more fodder.

Help from the banks? That innocent suggestion had Opposition deputies in stitches.

Then Enda made a very profound statement.

“The relationship between farmers and their animals is very close, actually.”

He didn’t elaborate.

Thank God.

“What worries me about your reply is that you use every word except ‘crisis’,” replied Micheál, concluding that the Taoiseach was unwilling to admit this because he would then be obliged to do something about it.

Enda went on the attack, clouting the Fianna Fáil leader with his favourite weapon: the red herring. His eye alighted on the former minister for agriculture.

“I remember minister Smith was the minister who gave out the free cheese.” Whatever that had to do with anything.

Things may be bad, but farmers will share their reserves with each other to weather the storm. A good productive farmer will always know the extent of the feed that remains, explained the Taoiseach.

Mattie McGrath and Michael Healy-Rae couldn’t disguise their exasperation. Did Enda not understand – you can’t share what you haven’t got. There is no feed left. The stocks are exhausted. “You can’t share what you haven’t got” shouted Healy-Rae.

The farmers of Ireland were none the wiser after yesterday’s exchanges.

In the name of the fodder, what’s to be done?

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald led the chamber away to the unyielding pasture of Croke Park ll.

Is that one particular field which won’t be ploughed again?

Enda turned a speculative new seam. Fresh negotiations may be explored, he indicated.

“So you’re resuming Croke Park” she shrugged. “Doing a reheat.”

Two two right, it would seem.

Leaders' Questions finished on a sour note, with the Technical Group's Clare Daly tackling the Taoiseach head on over when he would legislate for abortion for women whose lives are in danger.

Enda didn’t like her tough stance and accused her of making glib and flippant remarks. She did not such thing, but it suited him to hide behind his indignation.

“That matter is under active consideration,” he stated.

“Active consideration tells me nothing,” Clare replied.

“I don’t know what you are waiting for. I don’t know what you think you’re waiting for. Are you waiting for my daughter, your daughter or someone else’s wife to be in the same horrendous circumstance Savita’s husband described?”

There was a murmur of disapproval from Government backbenchers.

Daly wasn’t sure why the Taoiseach felt “women’s lives are less valuable than men’s or that their health should be unnecessarily put at risk.”

He said her comments were disgraceful.

“There are two lives involved here – the life of the mother and the life of the unborn. It is not a matter to be treated flippantly, glibly or with the kind of remarks made by Deputy Daly.”

The Taoiseach referred to the proposed legislation during the Order of Business. He called it “The Maternal Life Protection Bill”.

This time, he angered the other side of the debate in the form of Mattie McGrath. “The genie is out of the bottle in terms of the title of the Bill. Prior to the election, he promised in a letter that he would not introduce abortion under any circumstances . . . This legislation is a red herring . . .”