Trevelyan's corn feeds exchange
A MEETING of a sub committee of the Dail's finance committee yesterday afternoon to discuss the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012 was every bit as exciting as it sounds.
As time dragged on, the meeting became another duel between Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty (who really is very good in this forum), and Michael Noonan (pictured) whose gruff style and biting humour allow the Minister for Finance to get away with all sorts of things here and in the Dail chamber.
Yesterday, as the two men slugged it out, Mr Doherty made an impassioned attack on austerity which included the somewhat strange observation that there can hardly be an Irish person anywhere who has not sung the words to the 'Fields of Athenry' at some stage -- replete with its mawkish lines about stealing 'Trevelyan's corn'.
This resulted in an off-the-cuff lecture from Mr Noonan, a former teacher, about the song's history and the fact that it was written in the 1970s by Pete St John, together with an admonition to Mr Doherty not to "bring fictional characters to a debate about social deprivation".
It was a reply that garnered a grudging compliment from his rival who acknowledged a "very clever answer" and allowed Mr Noonan to sidestep the debate on cuts yet again.
The Punt believes this relationship is one of the few political relationships involving Mr Noonan that is based on genuine and mutual respect and suspects that the relationship has the potential to generate many more sparks in the years ahead.