Wednesday 26 October 2016

Taoiseach slips out to play a special request for his grassroots

Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

After the Order of Business, Enda slipped quietly out of the chamber to make a phonecall to his local radio station, to get them to play a special request.

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And that was how anyone in Mayo listening to the 5.30pm news received the lovingly personal message of his intention to dissolve the Dáil today.

The rest of us could find out by picking up the smoke signals left to drift in the wind from the Midwest studios in Ballyhaunis.

Clever Enda, tapping into his grassroots to give them the heads-up first, while appearing to be nationally occupied. The 'Paddy that likes to know' being an actual person living conveniently in the Taoiseach's own constituency, evidently.

As for the pitiful handful of diligent deputies, by that time debating 'Topical Issues' in the Dáil chamber, they had long ago lost the will to live.

Far, far past the point of giddiness, they had checked out to the extent that the atmosphere of the room scarcely registered the presence of human activity.

Only the blue screens of their mobile phones, working at a frenzied pitch in their hands, indicated that they were even still breathing.

The farewell speeches had been delivered last week, nobody had any power to set things in train at this 11th hour and there was really no point in anyone being there.

But there was always the possibility the Taoiseach might stride in, leaving the double doors swinging as he dramatically announced the immediate cessation of all such dullness.

And so they stayed, waiting for the electrifying word that would send them scrambling home to their constituencies.

But then Enda denied them even that small grain of excitement that would have made it all worthwhile.

Leo Varadkar had a twitch in his right eye betraying the fatigue of keeping the show of the 31st Dáil on the road as he answered questions on a variety of health-related issues, including the National Ambulance Service.

But the subject could not hold him and he mused off in a daydream about how he would someday like to retrain as a first responder.

And then he remembered where he was and sharpened up as he delivered a bleakly philosophical message to Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Billy Kelleher, health spokespersons for Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil respectively.

"Be careful what you promise as Health Minister," he warned them.

"It will never be possible to have an ambulance, a fire engine and a squad car at every crossroads in Ireland," he said.

Earlier, Richard Bruton was equally distracted as he delivered a positive comment on the latest unemployment statistics and only sprang to life when the election was mentioned, actually flushing with excitement.

The only one looking cheerful was Gerry Adams, fresh from the publication of his brand-new 'My Little Book Of Tweets' - described by the Sinn Féin bookshop as "bizarre, weird and part of a clever strategy" and featuring his infamous selfies, teddies, rubber duckies and goats.

But even Gerry was disappointed about the lack of election news.

"Well it looks to me as if the Taoiseach doesn't know how to call an election. He was going to go in November and then he thought about that and then he was going to go today - maybe he will go today and maybe he won't go until tomorrow. It's a mark of his stewardship as Taoiseach," he sniffed.

At the launch of a new poster campaign earlier, featuring a broken calculator and the headline 'Fine Gael Figures Don't Add Up', Gerry said it had been "a very bad five years" for the vast majority of citizens.

Pearse Doherty claimed Fine Gael had been "caught out" on their election promise that they could abolish the USC and were "scrambling the numbers" to try and confuse the Irish people.

But when they tried to carry the same message of their plan for a "fair recovery" into the Dáil later, all they got was a ringing peal of mirth from Government backbenchers.

Ah 31st Dáil, how we miss thee already.

Irish Independent

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