Wednesday 26 October 2016

Just when they think it's over... Enda insists there's more

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

The good news is this 31st Dáil is nearly over and done with. The less than good news is that there will be more in January.

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There were dozens of TDs in the Dáil chamber yesterday for large chunks of the day. That followed a "one-woman show" on Monday, when junior rural affairs minister Ann Phelan was left to be the government and opposition as she drove through legislation all about prisons, and nothing to do with her job.

The publicity fall-out prompted Gerry Adams to do a straight "lámha suas", which would have done credit to a surrendering IRA man, though of course he was never an IRA man of any kind - much less the surrendering kind.

"We should have had a representative there. That's for sure," the Sinn Féin leader fessed up when asked by reporters. He even went so far as to say the absence reflected badly on his party.

After that outburst of Sinn Féin candour, normal service was quickly resumed. Mr Adams of course also blamed the Government for bringing in the legislation by the lorryload these days, after months of peaks and valleys, and then deploying "the guillotine" to drive the draft laws through without much, if any, debate.

Monday's failure by all parties to lay on even the usual skeleton presence of government and opposition "watchers" to witness the business of law-making is emblematic of a Dáil term which is dragging on way beyond its sell-by date. In corridors the talk is all about postering, leafleting, canvassing and hopes of re-election, realistic and less than realistic.

But Enda Kenny had one key message to deliver to the Irish nation. The Taoiseach was responding to a long question from Fianna Fáil's Seán Ó Fearghaíl about neglected matters, especially the Constitutional Convention.

Mr Kenny's remorseful sound was helped by the nasal tones of a heavy cold. The Dáil will deal with these matters on its return, wait for it, on January 13. Strike those recurring rumours that this parliament would not return after Christmas, but an election would be called for late January.

So, we move our new rumoured election date to late February. That would allow those slow-moving Shannon waters time to abate. More importantly, it would allow payment of tax cuts, welfare increases, and public sector pay rebates.

Let us, however, report one sign of Christmas at Leinster House. It is a threat by sometime Clare Labour TD, Michael McNamara, to not vote with his party on asylum-seeker legislation later today, risking him again parting company with Labour.

McNamara's argument is that the Holy Family, essentially an unmarried couple, would not be covered by the protections in the International Protection Bill 2015. Joseph would be alone returning from Egypt, Mary and the infant excluded, for lack of marriage papers!

Irish Independent

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