Shatter sees funny side of Ó Cuív's decision to go with the horses


DÁIL SKETCH:A query on horses raised eyebrows as the saga of Promiscuous Notes rumbled on

CHANGED TIMES now. It’s not so long ago when Dáil Éireann all but emptied for the Cheltenham Races and it was impossible to find a Minister outside of the Cotswold Downs.

Yesterday, the only talk of horses came from a former Fianna Fáil minister, but not for nostalgic reasons. It was by way of a serious parliamentary question, and the Minister for Justice burst out laughing when he read it.

Éamon Ó Cuív tabled a query on the budget allocation this year for the Garda mounted unit. Shatter thought this was hilarious.

The few Fianna Fáilers present looked askance. Thankfully, Deputy Dev Óg didn’t witness

the Minister’s reaction to his question.

“I apologise,” sniffed Alan. “Occasionally, the humour of something gets to me. I didn’t realise that Deputy Ó Cuív had a particular interest in the Garda mounted unit . . . I have a vision of Deputy Ó Cuív riding into the twilight carrying a piece of turf on his shoulder.”

Dev Óg as John Wayne. There’s an image to conjure with.

Dara Calleary, who tabled the question on his colleague’s behalf, rushed to “assure the Minister that Deputy Ó Cuív won’t be riding into the twilight any time soon”.

This news will have come as a great comfort to Micheál Martin, as he tries to rebuild Fianna Fáil.

Meanwhile, the saga of the Promiscuous Notes rumbles on.

It was Gerry Adams’s turn this time to wave them provocatively at the Taoiseach.

The Spanish have the right idea, said the Sinn Féin leader. They took the toro pos los cuernos in Europe this week and got themselves a reduction in their budget deficit targets.

“Will the Taoiseach follow the lead of the Spanish government, stand up for the interests of Irish citizens and refuse to pay this promissory note?”

Enda over at him. “I can’t,” he said.

Unlike the Spanish, who are not in a bailout programme, the Irish are on the horns of a dilemma with the troika. We must move carefully. But there is a plan.

Gerry waved the Promiscuous Notes. Óle!

And Enda waved back a fragment of something entirely new, something he said would

see our particular economic circumstances “eased”.

What is it?

He twirled “A Flexibility Paper” in front of Deputy Adams.


Yes. We shall fight the Promiscuous Note with a Flexibility Paper.

“When the Deputy refers to the €3.1 billion in respect of the promissory notes, I have already made it perfectly clear that we are not going to raise any undue expectations,” explained Enda.

“A series of difficult, technical and complex negotiations are being held at the initiative of the troika in order to produce a flexibility paper so that this country’s particular economic circumstances could be eased by having the flexibility now available to ESM and EFSF.”

We wish Michael Noonan every good wish in his battle to secure this, but perhaps he is not the right man for the job. When it comes to producing flexibility, Senator Eamon Coghlan seems eminently more qualified.

The former athlete had them doing exercises in the Seanad recently as he continues his crusade to root out indolence in Leinster House.

Furthermore, the Taoiseach explained to Deputy Adams, “Spain is a very big country”.

Ireland, on the other hand, “is small”. Surely Gerry could understand this?

Enda sounded like Fr Ted trying to explain to a baffled Fr Dougal the difference between “small” and “far away”.

Deputy Adams didn’t seem to get it either.

It was a topsy-turvy day.

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins quoted Warren “one of the leading capitalists for decades” Buffet and then lauded the Sunday Independentfor producing a “comprehensive” survey of the 300 richest people in Ireland.

Shane Ross looked suitably gratified (not as one of the super-rich but as the head honcho of the Sindo’s business pages).

Joe asked why the Government was not imposing an aggressive taxation regime on these super-rich individuals who were shown to have considerably increased their earnings last year.

In the course of two wide- ranging replies, which didn’t actually answer Joe’s question, the Taoiseach twice referred to an unnamed person who had made “a gesture of practical patriotism”.

This individual “who is reputedly quite wealthy” told Enda that “wealth was being returned from his account to

Irish banks”. You could see from the look on Joe’s face and the splutters of disbelief coming from Richard Boyd Barrett that they aren’t planning to order in the bunting to celebrate the altruism of The Unknown Practical Patriot.

Although times are challenging, said the Taoiseach, it was up to everyone to make an equitable, fair and affordable contribution. Oxygen masks fell from the ceiling at this point for the hyperventilating socialists.

And so to the big story of the day. It happened in the Seanad and delighted the hearts of those journalists who had resigned themselves to another turgid day of RTÉ tweets and promiscuous notes.

During the Order of Business, Senator David Norris asked for a general debate on standards and values in Irish life.

“And I say that,” boomed Senator Norris, “having looked at a programme called Tallafornia, which is both compulsive and repulsive viewing”.

Senator Catherine Noone agreed. “It’s desperate.”

David described TV3’s reality show as a “drink-sodden programme” that exploited three young men and three young women by encouraging them to behave “licentiously” in an atmosphere of “continual drinking”.

“The last episode was really obnoxious,” said David, as he described the sexually loaded goings on in some detail.

“And the language, I have to say, is something which – even in my neck of the woods – I was not entirely familiar with on a habitual basis.”

Leinster House just couldn’t escape from flexibility and promiscuous notes yesterday.

It was enough to frighten Éamon Ó Cuív’s horse.