Sunday 28 December 2014

Michael O'Leary – he's here all week!

Published 02/04/2014 | 02:30

Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair
Michael O'Leary, chief executive officer of Ryanair
Adolf Hitler
Joe Higgins

Departing straight from the Old Jokes Home and arriving, not untypically, rather further away from the destination he would have preferred, Michael O'Leary has once again found himself in the doo-doo as a result of that voodoo that he do so well – telling off-colour jokes and enraging people.

When yesterday's story broke about him causing a hot flush of post-Colonial outrage at a dinner for the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, most of us would have been forgiven for making extra sure that it wasn't one of those oh-so-hilarious media April Fools' Day jokes.

Did the Ryanair boss actually stand up in front of a crowd, including our own Dear Inda, and declare that: "Addressing such an august body as this reminds me much of making love to the Queen – you know it's a great honour, you're just not sure how much pleasure it's going to be"?

Well, no it's not an April Fools' joke and yes, he did say it, prompting outraged Tory MP Andrew Rosindell to plaintively ask that: "I hope he'll learn the lesson not to make comments about the Queen in that way, or any head of state in a disrespectful manner, especially at a conference when British and Irish parliamentarians are making stronger friendships."

O'Leary was endearingly honest in his apology. He shrugged his shoulders, held up his hands and admitted: "I happily apologise for my opening remarks. It is always hard to judge the room. It normally is a joke that works quite well and I thought it might work well here."

If anything, the reaction is a sign of how far Anglo-Irish relations have come. Because only a few years ago, O'Leary would have been hailed for his courage by the kind of porter-soaked, bar-stool Republican who would have delighted in any act of irreverence towards the monarch as some sort of defiant two fingers to her and all she represents. But such is the high regard for the Queen in this country, the condemnations have all displayed an almost protective tone.

People are up in arms because we have taken to her in a manner that would have been simply inconceivable a generation ago. Hell, forget about a generation ago, even the days running up to her landmark visit here in 2011 were tense.

Back then there were banners outside pubs – well, one pub, but you know what I mean – and planned protests from the kind of historically confused poltroons who wanted to arrest her as a war criminal. There was all sorts of talk from the likes of the now-disbanded éirígí – They're still going? Who knew? – about causing as much disruption as they possibly could, because, as good democrats, they don't care what the majority think, and there was a genuine sense of trepidation that something disastrous could happen.

As things panned out, a new love affair was formed – she seemed visibly moved by the experience, her hosts were equally gracious and, apart from the poor woman being dragged down to Cork (presumably to remind her that the Empire really didn't miss that much when we broke away) the whole thing was quite delightful.

In fact, between the Queen and Obama visiting in such quick succession during that mild May, the country got a much-needed fillip.

Of course, this joke, and not just the man who told it, has form. After all, there was a brief flurry of feminist outrage a few years ago when a rugby player made exactly the same superannuated gag about Mary Harney while talking at a lunch which, in fairness, is probably where jokes like this should stay.

But there is a forgotten, hidden victim in all of this microshambles.

That screaming sound you may have noticed in the background was Michael D Higgins furiously shouting at his assistant and complaining that because of that fecker O'Leary, they are now going to have to completely rewrite his speech for when he visits the Queen next week.

Don'tcha just hate it when someone steals your best gag just before you go onstage?

Honestly, after this fuss, I genuinely doubt Higgins will make any sexual references to the Queen at all.

I hope you're proud of yourself, O'Leary...

WELL, THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG

Yesterday's column touched on the vexed issue of special rights for Travellers and pointed out that the debate has now become so hysterical that any criticism is immediately, and lazily, denounced as being as bad as something from the infamous Nazi propaganda rag, Der Sturmer.

Proving that some people really don't read before they post, the first remark on the Indo comments section was: "Hitler used exactly the same attitude for murdering millions of people."

Jesus, if you're not going to bother reading the offending article, at least read up on Godwin's Law...

MAKING A MONOTONE OUT OF A MOLEHILL

Discussing the increasingly sordid, corrupt and ethically bankrupt behaviour of some senior Gardaí, Uncle Joe Higgins (pictured) quickly, and with his typical dead-eyed delivery, turned the argument around and blamed the capitalist system for how the police work.

That's demonstrably nonsensical, but the the kind of sloganeering that, I assume, goes down well with his audience.

But if he is so against a capitalist police force that serves the elite, should we assume he would prefer the kind of police force we see in his beloved Communist countries, where they serve only The Party and have a habit of dragging people out of their beds at 3am to ask them a few questions about their loyalty?

Irish Independent

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