Thursday 23 October 2014

Peace was nice while it lasted, but hostilities have fully resumed

Published 14/11/2012 | 17:00

Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. But with the Children's Referendum now done and dusted, the white flag of temporary truce has been hauled down the flagpole and the warmongering skull and crossbones is back in place.

Micheal and Gerry and sundry members of the Opposition had been gritting their teeth and playing nice with Enda for the duration of the campaign, but the bullets were whizzing around the Taoiseach's head in the Dail chamber during Leaders' Questions yesterday.

Micheal Martin took careful aim over one particular aspect of the referendum.

He steered clear of the tricky fact that even the combined might of Government and Opposition couldn't drum up a decent turn-out – more citizens watched RTE's 'Love/Hate' (650,000) on Sunday evening, than voted Yes for Constitutional change (615,731) the day before.

Instead, the Fianna Fail leader berated Enda over the Supreme Court judgment which led many confused voters to conclude that this Government couldn't organise the proverbial bacchanal in a brewery.

Micheal charged that the result had been "stained somewhat by the very stark and blunt judgement of the Supreme Court when it essentially made it very, very clear that the Government not only dismissed the McKenna judgment but were in breach of the Constitution in carrying out its own promotional campaign".

Enda deployed the evasive manoeuvre favoured by Taoisigh faced with unpleasant legal findings in the offing. "It's important that we do not prejudice or comment unduly on the reasons the Supreme Court gave its judgment in the way it did," he said primly.

"I want to wait until I see the detail of the Supreme Court's analysis. The court is entitled to that, without deference or speculation, idle or otherwise," he added (though presumably the Taoiseach meant "without interference", as any shortage of deference to our judiciary tends to lead to wigs on the green).

Gerry Adams launched his scud from an entirely different direction, excoriating Enda on the shambolic situation in relation to the processing of grants by the Student Universal Support Ireland (known by the inappropriately perky acronym SUSI).

"Do you accept that there is a crisis and that it is totally unacceptable that, as of yesterday, only 18,000 out of 66,000 applications to SUSI have been processed? Do you also accept that the Department of Education has mismanaged this entire process?" he demanded.

Enda didn't even try and dodge this bullet. "I agree with Deputy Adams that this is an unacceptable position," he replied, explaining that stern letters had already been fired off to the centre responsible for the backlog.

"Clearly, there are serious teething problems with this service," he added, with the air of someone who knows that was one battle he had no chance of winning.

But all the Opposition were in the mood to take pot-shots at him. A little later, Richard Boyd Barrett was up in arms about what he saw as easy access to the ears of power for bankers, but not for the unemployed.

"Shouldn't we really at this stage just take down the Tricolour from all the State buildings and raise the Jolly Roger? Because what you seem to be doing is facilitating tax piracy and financial pirates at every turn," fumed the deputy.

Enda was unimpressed, "I think what you want to do is send Ireland to Davy Jones' Locker," he retorted.

There's that sinking feeling again. Hostilities have resumed.

Irish Independent

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