Saturday 24 September 2016

You can't make it up. Unless you're Enda

Why in the world, Gene Kerrigan asks, would the State be upset about getting a €19bn windfall?

Published 24/05/2015 | 02:30

Cartoon
Cartoon

Later, we'll bring you the most extraordinary sentence published in an Irish newspaper in 2015. Yes, there are seven months left in the year, but it's unlikely that a more startling sentence will be published in any Irish newspaper, at any time, ever.

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First - how come Enda Kenny is doing so well in the polls? Mr Austerity, Mr Irish Water, the man who in 2011 said that if we elected him, "I'll end the scandal of patients on trolleys", is doing very, very well indeed, thank you.

(Unlike the patients on the trolleys.)

Labour, on the other hand, is being treated by the electorate like a once-respected relative who's been caught stuffing aubergines down his Y-fronts in M&S.

In Fianna Fail, several would-be leaders are trying to work up the courage to knife Micheal Martin and announce a new dawn for the Soldiers of Destiny. Not one of these heroes has demonstrated any vision of society that might encourage anyone to see them as anything other than people programmed to constantly seek the highest position in any given circumstance.

Sinn Fein continues to manoeuvre for a shot at the big time, handicapped by the fact that it's dragging its history behind it like - well, like a corpse.

But - towering above them all - there's Enda the Embarrassment, telling us how he fixed the economy and negotiated a huge write-down of State debt. Most importantly - he has "restored Ireland's reputation".

And he can't wait to show Frau Merkel around the GPO during the 1916 Commemoration next year. "This is the building in which Pearse, Clarke and MacDermott held negotiations with Prime Minister Asquith on the totality of relationships within these islands."

Headline: "Poll bounce for Fine Gael as support continues to rise".

Why? After all, the degree to which Enda is an embarrassment is beyond dispute.

You want an example?

Last January, Mr Kenny told us how wonderful his Budget was. He told us he'd been contacted by workers who said: "Well, I'm not sure whether it was a mistake or not, but I seem to have got extra money in this last payment".

Now, the increase in income was so small, for a workforce battered by charges and levies, that few would notice any difference.

But, somewhere in Enda's mind he believed the people were so thrilled by the Budget that they rang his office to make sure that they hadn't been overpaid.

Everyone knows this never happened.

Asked to explain, one of Enda's expensive advisers said the Taoiseach's remarks were a "turn of phrase".

A turn of phrase is when you say someone is "always chasing rainbows", or that someone "passed the torch" to someone else. What Mr Kenny did was describe an incident that didn't happen, complete with dialogue to make it seem more real.

I don't believe Kenny is a liar. Besides, who would make up such a silly lie?

Some may believe he's making stuff up, as the fancy takes him. Others see a more disturbing explanation.

And that is that these things did happen. They happened inside Enda's head. Our Taoiseach has internal adventures, events that are so real to him that he later retails them as fact.

In February, Mr Kenny told of how an anti-Water Tax chap "approached me with two pints in his hands, complaining about the charge". The Taoiseach zapped the guy with rapier wit. "I reminded him that one pint would pay for his water as a single person for a couple of weeks."

Believable? Well, let's give Mr Kenny the benefit.

That was February. In April Mr Kenny told the Dail it happened again.

The Taoiseach recalled: "The man who stopped me with the two pints in his hand last week, shouting about the cost of water that he could not pay. What he was holding in his hands would pay for water for him - because I know him - for nearly 10 weeks."

Since we know the Taoiseach wasn't lying, we must conclude this was another internal adventure that happened inside his head, which he came to believe was real.

Can we imagine Micheal Martin or Joan Burton or - God forbid - Gerry Adams was caught retailing their internal adventures?

Imagine if Clare Daly or Richard Boyd Barrett entertained us with detailed stories of things that never happened. They would be sliced and diced.

With Enda, the political establishment looks way too discomfited to draw obvious conclusions.

These fantasies are, of course, quite petty. The same discomfiture, though, lets the Taoiseach get away with outrageous fantasies about State debt.

In the summer of 2012 he clapped himself on the back and announced that his negotiating skills had led to a "seismic shift" among EU leaders. They would stop forcing a disproportionate cost of saving Europe's banks on to Irish citizens. I'm pretty sure Mr Kenny could describe the room in which the negotiations took place, and name the perfume Frau Merkel was wearing that day - but as months gave way to years everyone realised it was another of his "internal adventures". It never happened.

We have to pay billions each year on money we were forced to borrow, in order to prop up not just Irish banks but German and French banks. Mr Kenny was asked this year why he didn't even try to do something about this. And he said that his government "negotiated a 50 billion writedown", which reduced borrowing requirements.

Another fantasy. In reality, what he has been doing since he took office is wagging his tail whenever other EU leaders appear. Mr Noonan rubs his cheeks against the ankles of the mighty, then sits in their laps, purring and looking up at them with his mournful big eyes. They haven't restored Ireland's reputation, they have refashioned it as a nation of sycophants.

Their reward is being allowed by their masters to remortgage the State debt - reducing the interest payable during their period in office, at a cost of forcing the debt on to future generations.

In such circumstances, it matters that the Taoiseach tells soothing stories about his prowess.

How does he hold up so well in the polls?

Look at the options. Fianna Fail don't understand how deeply we despise them for what they did. They're angry at Micheal Martin because he hasn't restored them to their traditional top dog position. They don't understand that 2011 wasn't a temporary setback.

Labour betrayed its base - by forcing austerity on people who have little, while allowing Fine Gael protect those who have much.

Fine Gael, however, pleased its base, the comfortable classes, who applaud the asset stripping of the public hospitals and the demolition of wages and conditions in the private sector.

About a quarter of the electorate - Fine Gael's natural base among the comfortable classes - has accepted the Kenny vision of a suppliant Ireland, smiling winningly at our betters.

Which brings us to the most extraordinary sentence published in an Irish newspaper in 2015.

Hidden away in the business section of The Irish Times, Arthur Beesley analysed the row between Apple and the EU. Beesley isn't sucking his thumb, he knows whereof he writes.

The EU claims that the Irish State okayed a tax dodge for Apple - and that amounted to State aid.

Beesley quoted a document from JP Morgan, a firm with Apple connections. If Apple lose - and JP Morgan "believes an adverse finding is likely" - they will have to pay up to €19bn in Irish tax.

Wow, says I, we're in clover - nineteen billion! Yipp-eeeeee!

Of all the sentences that might have come next, this tells us just how degenerate the political classes have made the erstwhile republic.

The next sentence reads: "Yet that is the last thing that Dublin would want".

Why? Because our politicians don't just suck up to EU leaders - they've turned this country into a haven for tax avoiders. They actively pimp us out to the wealthiest of the wealthy - and they're now afraid that if Apple has to pay a fair tax the other tax avoiders will be upset.

Fun fact: Enda Kenny's hero and role model is Michael Collins.

Sunday Independent

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