Go-Go raises the bar with self-serving acrobatics
Perhaps, because everyone else had failed to notice the significance of the date, Paul Gogarty took it upon himself to remind the world of his moment in the sun almost exactly a year ago to the day.
It was on December 11 last year when Go-Go had his 'Goodfellas' episode in the Dail chamber and unleashed a flurry of effs upon the startled head of Labour's Emmet Stagg by roaring "In the most unparliamentary language possible, F**K YOU, Deputy Stagg, f**k you".
But it's been a tad busy of late in Leinster House and the first anniversary of this high-point in parliamentary debate had slipped everyone's mind. Everyone's except Go-Go's.
And so yesterday during the debate on the Financial Emergency Measures Bill, which included a cut of €1 to the minimum wage, he decided to sort of revisit the scene of the crime.
As Paul spoke on a Labour amendment to the bill, he was also receiving a haranguing from Labour's Roisin Shortall.
Eventually the Dublin West deputy turned towards her. "In the most unparliamentary language possible, Deputy Shortall," he said and then paused as the monitoring media went on red alert, "bless you," he said. "Bless you for your kind words," he added with a grin.
Why had Paul incurred the wrath of Roisin? Well, he had just executed a spectacular piece of self-serving acrobatics. "I support this amendment but if the whip is applied I, as a member of a government party that supports having the Budget passed in the national interest, will vote with the Government," he said.
Fianna Fail's most famous acrobat, Mattie McGrath, must've been proud of the Green's own Mattie Og. But Roisin was disgusted. "You've absolutely no credibility," she shouted. "You haven't the courage to vote for it." Fine Gael's Alan Shatter was more scathing. "Gogarty amply fulfils the role of national comedian."
But Alan had a suggestion for the Green gymnast. "After the election has taken its course and the people have made the judgment that I expect them to make on him and his party, and as I have no wish to see him unemployed, Cirque du Soleil no doubt could make use of his talents."
But Paul was proud of his party-trick of talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and happily shouted random retorts at any opposition deputies who took him to task.
It was a dispiriting spectacle. Despite deploring the cuts to social welfare and the minimum wage, the Green TD still voted for the self-same measures to pass in the bill. As Alan Shatter disgustedly observed, "It's the type of politics that totally undermines the credibility of members of this House."
And so a year on from his F-you outburst, Go-Go marked the occasion with two fingers hoisted at the electorate instead. In stark contrast to Paul acting the maggot, Roisin delivered an impassioned speech on the proposed cut to the minimum wage. "Can anybody in the House imagine what it is like to work for 40 hours a week and take home €297 for his or her trouble? This is a scandal."
And while Paul 'Looney Tunes' Gogarty was battling with his conscience and winning, mentor Mattie 'Daffy Duck' McGrath was exhibiting symptoms of Green flu (confusion and delusion). Within the space of two hours yesterday, Mattie managed to vote out of both sides of his mouth. At the first vote on the bill, he voted with the government, but when passing the bill into law he voted with the opposition. His explication left everyone none the wiser. He accused the Finance Minister of performing "a trick of the loop job", by assuring him the super-tax on bank bonuses would apply to this year's bonanza of €40m.
Mattie claimed he had haggled a deal out of Brian Lenihan on Thursday evening, mere minutes before he announced the new tax. "We discussed the rate, and he says 70pc tax, and I said no I want 99 (pc) and he said 80 and I said no, 90pc and he said sit down behind me I'm going to announce it," he explained to a confused media.
What a circus. Bring in the clowns. Oh wait, there's Paul and Mattie -- don't bother, they're here.