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Sunday 23 July 2017

It's Carry On Up Leinster House as TDs cry 'infamy, infamy' at Enda

Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy on the plinth at Leinster House. Photo: Damien Eagers
Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy on the plinth at Leinster House. Photo: Damien Eagers
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

An immediate investigation is called for into the ingredients of the scones which the Taoiseach snacked upon in the TV3 studios early yesterday morning.

Is it possible the freshly-baked buns contained chunks of raw meat? Or a slug of Popeye's spinach? Or even a mushroom of the magic variety?

For something had definitely fired him up to unusual levels of feistiness towards the end of Leaders' Questions and the start of the Disorder of Business in the Dáil. For normally when the Opposition begins to rag on him in the chamber, Enda confines himself to a mental eye-roll or a bit of a sigh or he simply trots out a few well-worn retorts, such as "you broke the country" (to Fianna Fáil) or "tell the truth about the past" (Sinn Féin).

But yesterday, as Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy was getting stuck in, he decided to start a rumble himself. Paul was in full flight on the subject of (surprise) Irish Water and wanted to know figures relating to payments and also when promised legislation would materialise. "At this rate, Godot himself may ramble by before any legislation comes before the House," he reckoned.

The Taoiseach, perhaps giddy with relief that the TV3 crew hadn't actually made him bake something earlier, decided to throw a few macho shapes. "I know you're a deputy elected by the people and good luck to you, but sometimes I feel that you think you're Julius Caesar and feel you can dictate whatever you want to do yourself. But I'm not going to spoon-feed you," he retorted, kitchen metaphors to the fore.

"In fairness, Julius Caesar was a bit more sophisticated than that," pondered Micheál Martin. "Et tu, blueshirt," chirped Timmy Dooley, but Enda continued undaunted.

"So I would advise you to toddle along to the AV [meeting] room where Irish Water will be in there to answer any question," he informed Paul.

Now telling anyone to "toddle along" won't improve their mood, and inevitably the Opposition got cross.

"What is the point of Leaders' Questions?" huffed Ruth Coppinger, inadvertently putting herself on the same page as the political correspondents who ask themselves the same thing on a daily basis.

Then the scones really kicked in. "To tell you where to go," replied the Taoiseach robustly.

Holy hell ensued as the Castlebar Caesar continued, "to tell you where to go - if you don't know they're giving information at 4 o'clock, I'm telling you that," he repeated, pointing a thumb towards the door and putting on his innocent face (a pity then, it was spoiled by a naughty grin and wink across the chamber as he sat back down).

The Opposition, ever on the lookout for a chance to get all indignant - leapt on his barb like a ravenous man on a Big Mac. Róisín Shortall erupted from her seat as if stung by a bee. "Repeat that," she fumed. "The Taoiseach has brought the House into disrepute with that comment," she insisted.

"Resume your seat," snapped the Ceann Comhairle.

Ruth Coppinger joined in, unleashing a small dog of war. "You've been quick enough in the past to berate us for making comments and to withdraw them," she berated Seán Barrett.

Alas, seats weren't resumed, so business was suspended by a choleric Ceann for 10 minutes.

But when everyone returned, the ruckus kicked off again, sparking another suspension. And even after the Disorder of Business, the row spilled out onto the plinth, with Paul and Ruth holding a doorstep interview to give out yards about the Ceann Comhairle. "I don't have confidence in him based on the way I've been treated by him. I think there's an element of misogyny in his dealings as well in relation to myself and Mary Lou," Ruth charged. "I'm basing it on the fact I seem to be interrupted more and so do other female TDs," she added.

Her claims were put to a spokesperson for the Oireachtas last night who said the Ceann Comhairle has "no comment" to make. But it was Enda who started the whole barney with his Julius Caesar remark - though he'd be better minded to keep an eye on the back of his own toga. And of course the rumpus deflected attention away from the awkward business of Irish Water.

Those bloody scones have a lot to answer for. Once again, the Dáil turned into the chaotic classroom from the 'Beano', minus the paper planes. Though it was another 'Waiting for Godot' quote which sprang to mind: "We are all born mad; some remain so."

Irish Independent

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