Friday 30 September 2016

Enda channels his inner Beckett with brief, pointed answer

Published 15/07/2015 | 02:30

'Enda has either embraced the spirit of Sam Beckett, or he’s content to let Irish Water carry the can for a woejus level of sign-up by the citizenry'
'Enda has either embraced the spirit of Sam Beckett, or he’s content to let Irish Water carry the can for a woejus level of sign-up by the citizenry'

When it comes to replying to awkward questions in the Dáil, Taoisigh - and not just the current chap in the gig - prefer to channel their inner James Joyce and deploy wandering, punctuation-free streams of consciousness.

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Poor oul Sam Beckett, the King of Brevity, never gets a look-in. And so doubtless Paul Murphy expected the usual melange of windiness, waffle and smart-arsery when he rose during Leader's Questions to tackle the Taoiseach once more on the matter of just how many citizens have signed up to Irish Water.

The last time that the Anti-Austerity Alliance TD tackled Enda on the subject a couple of months ago, the Taoiseach suggested that he should "toddle along" to a room in Leinster House where Irish Water were holding a briefing session, and he had no intention of "spoonfeeding" Paul.

Ructions inevitably ensued over Enda's tone - Paul is one of a select club of Opposition TDs who manage to raise the hackles of the Taoiseach on sight - but it served its purpose of sparing him from having to provide some class of coherent answer.

And so Paul had another go yesterday afternoon (after all, it was a safer topic to raise than the perplexing matter of how his former pals in Syriza are getting on in liberating Greece from the yoke of austerity).

In fairness to the TD, he has spent the past two months assiduously following the water trail in search of those numbers. He informed the Taoiseach that he had "duly toddled along to ask Irish Water the questions", only to be told by Irish Water that it would not be "helpful" to provide the figures.

He then used Freedom of Information to try and winkle the figures out of Irish Water, but was refused. He appealed, but that was turned down too.

Paul then asked Jobs Minister Richard Bruton in the Dáil. "Instead of getting any answers, I got a cut-price ad for Irish Water, which I could have got by turning on any radio station at almost any time of the day," he declared.

But Richard did point him in the direction of Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who had been sent a written question on the matter. "It was ruled out of order," continued Paul.

There was eventually a question tacked on to the end of the deputy's tale of woe. "What, Taoiseach, are you hiding? What is Irish Water hiding? Many people can reasonably guess and surmise that what's being hidden is a very low level of payment," he charged.

Enda rose to his feet. His smirk could have been seen from Pluto.

"I understand Irish Water will provide that information to everyone tomorrow." He sat down.

He caught everyone on the hop. What was that one-sentence reply about? Well, Enda has either embraced the spirit of Sam Beckett, or he's content to let Irish Water carry the can for a woejus level of sign-up by the citizenry. Dear oh dear, which could it be?

Irish Independent

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