Shirty reaction to Mick's right to choose


Dáil SketchAnd on a lighter note, the difficult and often divisive issue of a man’s right to choose was catapulted on to the national stage in Leinster House yesterday.

Some people decided to ignore it entirely, as they have done since the beginning of the 31st Dáil. They turned a very deliberate blind eye.

These were the sensible ones.

It was the talk of the place.

The atmosphere in the chamber during the Order of Business was tinged with a mixture of shock and surprise.

How had it come to this?

In the corridors, politicians openly discussed the controversy.

“He must have gone to England for it,” said one.

“I heard it was Italy,” said another.

“It’s just not right,” whispered a Minister. “If he gets away with this the floodgates will open.”

“It’s his own body and he can do what he likes with it,” declared a female deputy, “although personally, I don’t like it. It’s horrible.”

A distressed Government backbencher confessed: “I could hardly bear to look at him when he came in this morning.”

It’s difficult for everyone, this question of a dress code for TDs. It arouses very strong passions on both sides.

Ming Flanagan arrived in last Tuesday sporting an orange woolly geansaí which he wore every day.

It’s been rumoured that the fire brigade had to cut him out of it by the weekend.

But Mick Wallace took the biscuit yesterday.

The Wexford deputy’s penchant for shabby chic soared to new heights when he appeared in the chamber wearing what one appalled politician later told us was “some class of an aul’ blouse”.

Our male TDs are not particularly known for their plunging necklines.

But Mick, in an unusual grey cowl neck hoodie-type thingy, almost carried off the look. His casual top had more crumple zones than a Volvo concept car.

The garment was delicate, but (thank God) not diaphanous, and it fell in soft folds from a scooped and hairy neckline. Mick completed this sartorial abomination with a rumpled pair of cream cargo pants.

He was rocking the unmade-bed look and Oireachtas traditionalists were not happy with him. Dignity of the House and all that.

But, unless he is declared bankrupt or convicted of a serious crime, Wallace doesn’t have to answer to the style police in the Dáil. Voters in the sunny southeast knew they weren’t sending Beau Brummel to the Dáil when they ticked the box marked Mick on the ballot paper.

But even by his own unique standard, Wallace’s rig-out was special.

The sight of him lifted the gloom a little from the very serious nature of business in the Dáil, where the Savita Halappanavar controversy continued.

And outside the gates a rolling timetable of protest was taking place.

The first arrivals, over 2,000 of them, were people with disabilities, their families and supporters, marching against broken promises and cuts in payments and services.

The next contingent gathered to protest against plans to drill for oil in Dublin Bay, near Dalkey.

And when darkness fell, a couple of thousand people held a candlelight vigil in memory of Savita as the debate on legislating for the X case continued inside.

But the unbearable lightness of being Mick Wallace gave downcast politicians and journalists just a little chance to smile and take a breather.

And a chance to ask a question other than: “why can’t the Government get anything right first time?” by pondering: “what in God’s name is Mick wearing?”

It’s his decision, and a man’s right to choose.