Watch out below as Dáil mess is dumped upon us


Gardyloo! An ancient cry to warn pedestrians when the contents of a chamber pot were about to be thrown from an upstairs window into the street below.

Imagine the unfortunate peasant, walking along minding his own business, only for a bucket of somebody else’s slop to land on his head.

Scroll ahead a few hundred years. We have modern sanitation and brown bins and industrial-strength vacuum cleaners now, but the people upstairs can still make an unmerciful mess.

It is the reason Fine Gael and Labour literally swept into government. They assumed power armed with yard brushes and shovels, promising to clean up after the previous occupants and their profligate retinue of corporate carousers.

And they’ve been good to their word.

Gardyloo, as the Coalition upends another budget-sized basin of somebody else’s swill on top of innocent heads.

This is really annoying Joe Public.

When they asked the new intake to scour the stinking bucket of the boom years, they didn’t expect to have to wear its contents.

But Enda and Eamon don’t seem to understand this. What’s the hullabaloo about? Aren’t they doing the dirty job they were elected to do? Cleaning up after the last shower and their partying pals? It’s not like they enjoy doing it. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste and his Ministers complain about it all the time.

Coming up to two years in government and the Coalition is still on its hands and knees, scrubbing for Ireland.

Enda has a severe case of housemaid’s knee, but by this stage everyone else has a severe case of household ear from having to listen to him.

Day after day after day, trailing pungent fumes of Domestos and carbolic, he struggles into the Dáil chamber and moans about his lot. “The mess that was left for us to clean up requires difficult decisions that impact on people’s lives,” he wailed yesterday. It’s his excuse for everything.

Unfortunately, the Taoiseach explains that he can’t reverse decisions such as the cut in respite grants for carers. They are the innocent by-product of his Coalition’s clean-up campaign.

Heartbreaking as it is to see these people massing in the cold outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday.

Perish the thought that Enda and Eamon might return the chaos and clutter to the people who made the mess in the first case.

It’s always easier to chuck a few chamber pots out the top windows of Government Buildings on to the little people below, then stay as far away from them as possible, with a hanky pressed to the nostrils.

Some government deputies ventured outside the Kildare Street gates yesterday afternoon as the small group of carers held their protest. They didn’t stick around long. They got a cold and noisy reception.

Opposition TDs milled around the scene, members of Sinn Féin and the Technical Group and some from Fianna Fáil. It was strange to look across and see former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea in the middle of the protesters, listening to their stories, empathising and sympathising – and Senator Mary White, very visible among them, looking concerned and angry.

A couple of years ago we were stood at those same gates, at similar types of protest, with the politicians from Fine Gael and Labour comforting those weary mothers with the placard in one hand and disabled child holding the other and it would have been the Fianna Fáilers scuttling through the gates.

It makes you wonder.

Back inside, we began to think if it might not be better for the Ceann Comhairle to abandon his customary plea for “order” and roar “Gardyloo!” instead, because the slops were flying around the Dáil chamber.

Micheál Martin borrowed from Fintan O’Toole in yesterday’s Irish Times who discussed a post-budget interview given by the Taoiseach as “a stream of banal inanities, a crumbling of language and a load of inarticulate drivel”. Which, Micheál concluded, just about summed up most of what Enda had just told him about the budget.

Enda insisted it was “about the Government having the conviction and the courage to clean up the most inordinate mess left behind by the most incompetent, out-of-touch, arrogant government of the past 50 years”.

Then he accused the Fianna Fáil leader of spouting “inarticulate drivel”.

When Gerry Adams took his turn to attack the Taoiseach over the budget cuts, it wasn’t long before the Ceann Comhairle was faced with a Gardyloo.

“If the Taoiseach doesn’t get this – sitting there with a row of millionaires beside him – it is because he is taking home €200,000 a year . . . Ministers take home over €3,000 a week.”

Enda dismissed his comments as “disgraceful” as his fellow paupers looked dolefully on from their seats on the front be bench.

“I assure the deputy that none of these people was funded by the Northern Bank or by the assets of the Northern Bank,” thundered Enda, pitching out the swill.

No, just by the taxpayer.

The Sinn Féin leader spoke about compassion for women and children.

The Taoiseach responded with a predictable response, wondering where the compassion was when Jean McConville was murdered. It’s a cheap jibe at this stage. Adams got very angry. He shouted and stabbed his finger in the air and the Ceann Comhairle suspended the House.

It’s not that Gerry Adams will get much sympathy from the wider public when he complains about references to his past, but the Taoiseach can’t keep using a dead woman to avoid legitimate questions.