Tuesday 26 September 2017

Politics: The Kildare Street Awards

Lie Hand

Lise Hand picks the big winners -- and losers -- of the year's big political brouhahas

THE MILEY CYRUS DAFT PHOTO OP AWARD

Most politicians have learned to steer clear of barmy photo-opportunities, but not our Taoiseach, who features in two of the most bonkers political pics of 2013. The first shows Enda happily chasing a gobsmacked goose while on a visit to Tayto Park in January, while the second features him doing a 'bunny ears' photo-bomb on two unsuspecting women at the hurling final in Croker last September. There are, please God, no shots of Enda twerking.

  • Winner: Bunny Ears

GOLD STAR TD OF THE YEAR

Independent TD for Waterford John Halligan proved to be a compelling performer as one of the spokespersons for the Technical Group, earning respect from all sides of the House. John was particularly eloquent when speaking on the plight of right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming, who sadly passed away this month. And kudos go to Independent TD for Dublin South Shane Ross who hauled three Central Remedial Clinic board members over some piping hot coals in committee this month, grilling them on salary and pension top-ups.

  • Winner: John Halligan

POLITICAL PUT-DOWN OF THE YEAR

Given that EU leaders sweat buckets when the German Chancellor arches a quizzical eyebrow, Angela Merkel's unusually blunt reaction to one of the cringe-inducing Anglo Tapes sent a right old shiver down Ireland's collective spine. The tapes featured a mocking rendition of Deutschland Uber Alles and provoked this icy but dignified put-down from Ms Merkel. "I have nothing but contempt for this. For people who go to work every day and earn their money, it is very, very difficult to understand, if at all," she sniffed. Achtung bankers!

  • Winner: Angela Merkel

THE GOOD VIBRATIONS BOUQUET

The night in February when the Taoiseach stood in the Dáil and apologised unreservedly on behalf of the Government, State and citizens for the injustices visited on the women of the Magdalene Laundries was a truly spine-tingling, unforgettable and emotionally charged highlight of the year.

THE BAD VIBRATIONS BRICKBAT

One of the lowest points of parliamentary discourse was provided by Fianna Fáil senator Jim Walsh during the passage of the abortion legislation through the Oireachtas. His ill-judged, repellent and highly selective graphic descriptions of termination procedures sparked widespread disquiet and marred what hitherto had been largely a responsible and balanced debate.

THE ORDER OF THE BANANA-SKIN AWARD

A Fine Gael spokesman protested it was just a bit of "horseplay", but plenty of neigh-sayers begged to differ after Cork East TD Tom Barry was nabbed on camera pulling colleague Áine Collins onto his lap during the abortion debate all-nighter in the Dáil in July. But it wasn't the biggest political oops-a-daisy of 2013 -- that goes to the Coalition for managing the barely credible feat of losing a referendum to abolish 60 politicians with one stroke of a peann luaidhe.

  • Winner: The Government's Seanad referendum campaign

THE GOLDEN GOB GONG

During the penalty points palaver last May, Dublin South motormouth Alan Shatter decided to claim on Prime Time that Mick Wallace had received a garda warning for using his mobile phone while driving, and the subsequent political car-crash saw the Justice Minister obliged to face an opposition no-confidence motion in the Dáil.

THE COMICAL ALI AWARD FOR BAREFACED BRASSNECKERY

Are they having a laugh? Or are former Fianna Fáil blue-bloods Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin and John O'Donoghue actually seriously contemplating comebacks? Surely they realise they are ghosts of a political past that the voters fervently wish would stay dead and buried? They should wise up and forget any unrealistic notions of resurrection. As the ad (almost) says -- when you're gone, you're gone.

THE JUST GOOD FRIENDS AWARD FOR TOP POLITICAL BEDFELLOWS

When glamorous IMF chief Christine Lagarde visited Dublin last February, she managed to make the usually unflappable Finance Minister go a bit scarlet when she remarked approvingly how Michael Noonan "respects the views of women".

The duo are good pals, and it's handy for Ireland to have friends in high financial places. But it was the level of chumminess between Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and his deputy Joan Burton that came under close scrutiny this year, sparked by tales of tension between the pair that emerged in Pat Leahy's new book on the Coalition, The Price of Power. Cue vehement protestations of loyalty from both of them.

  • Winner: Eamon and Joan

THE CHRISTIAN FLETCHER AWARD FOR BEST MUTINEER

There were quite a few splashes as four TDs and two senators walked the Fine Gael plank, losing the party whip for voting against the abortion legislation.

And the most high-profile mutineer was junior minister Lucinda Creighton, whose departure was still dramatic despite being well-flagged in advance. Now the question is, what will Lucy do next?

DAMP SQUIB OF THE YEAR

After months of fuss and rebuilding/repainting county Fermanagh, and after deployment of thousands of boys in blue around the vicinity of the G8 summit in June in anticipation of major riots, there was less trouble than one would find in any chip-shop after closing-time. And the meeting of the eight world leaders proved to be a news snooze too.

THE JOHN WAYNE QUIET MAN AWARD OF 2013

It was almost magical, the way that Big Phil Hogan has managed to vanish into the political ether during 2013. After being in the news almost constantly the previous year between household and property taxes and various controversies, the Environment Minister has kept a lower-than-low profile this year, as his beleaguered colleague Health Minister James Reilly took the heat instead.

THE BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD CITATION FOR WITTIEST REPARTEE

The outright winners are Mattie McGrath and Pat Rabbitte who traded udderly surreal insults in the Dáil in October during questions on rising energy prices and fracking.

The Independent Tipp South TD launched a bizarre attack on the Communications Minister. "You're like Murphy's cow, with two dry tits, one blind tit, and a sop of milk in the other tit . . . that's what you're like, minister," declared Mattie. "You should go back and maybe count the tits on Ms Murphy's cow."

Pat was not amoosed. "Well, whatever about the tits on Ms Murphy's cow . . . to be honest, that contribution, deputy, is about as useful as tits on a bull," he riposted. It was, to be sure, all a load of bullocks.

Irish Independent

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