Saturday 1 November 2014

Our gongs for the heroes, chancers, winners, losers

Published 02/08/2014 | 02:30

Our gongs for the heroes, chancers, winners, losers

THE Dail has been on its summer holidays for more than a week now, but it is the Galway Race Festival that marks the beginning of the real holidays for the politicians.

And so here are the recipients of this season's Handies, the coveted gongs for our heroes, chancers, winners and losers. Cue drum-roll, frocks, tears, and blaming it all on somebody else . . .

King of the Clangers: Martin Callinan

The former Garda Commissioner may have thought that his ill-judged description of the actions of the two whistleblowers would be no more than a storm in a D-hiccup, but his use of the "disgusting" word at the Public Accounts Committee in January contributed in no small part to his other D-word, Downfall, leading to his sacking/resignation two months later.

The Vladimir Putin award for International Diplomacy: Martin Fraser and Anne Anderson

A couple of Irish people having a barney on Paddy's Day in New York isn't news – unless the pair in question are Ireland's top civil servant Martin Fraser and Ireland's ambassador to the US Anne Anderson. For some unfathomable reason they chose the lobby of Fitzpatrick's Hotel in Manhattan late on the evening of March 16 to have a loud spat, with Anderson overheard telling the Taoiseach's Secretary General that she wasn't "a liar". Oops. Red faces all around, especially Enda's.

The Charles J Haughey Memorial Prize for Most Lavish Hooley: Queen Elizabeth

Fair play to Queen Elizabeth, she really pushed the Britannica out when President Michael D and Sabina Higgins arrived in Windsor for the State Visit on April 8. She gave it the full royal treatment – a 21-gun salute, ceremonial parade, and a sumptuous banquet with a star-studded guest list.

The Shoulda Woulda Coulda Award: Ruairi Quinn

If only the Education Minister had known when he did the Stations of the Cross (aka the teachers' conferences) at Easter that he would be quitting his post six weeks later, Ruairi might've been less forbearing about the rude reception he received at the ASTI bunfight on April 21 which starred a teacher roaring through a megaphone. He missed a golden opportunity to use words such as "perennial moaners" and "self-regarding". Which is a shame, really.

The Maureen O'Hara Quiet Man Award for Least Dignified Exit: Alan Shatter

The limelight-loving Justice Minister was never going to go quiet into the gentle political night, and if he wasn't quite carried from the Department kicking and screaming 'Quiet Man' style over Enda's shoulder on May 7, he didn't tiptoe out either. There was the bizarre press conference to announce he was donating his €70,000 golden handshake to charity; he subsequently administered a good kicking in the Dail to the Guerin report into whistleblowers, and this week he launched a High Court challenge against some of the report's findings. He hasn't gone away, you know.

The Lord Voldemort Gong for Best Resurrection: Mary Hanafin.

Who would've guessed that three years after losing her seat as part of the Fianna Fail general election massacre, Mary Hanafin would rise from the political dead and win a council seat in Blackrock – and against the wishes of her party, who made a hames of the selection. Not even Harry Potter (and certainly not Micheal Martin) will have the moxie to stop her going for the Dail next time around.

The Gone in 60 Seconds Award for Most Dignified Exit: Eamon Gilmore

Two days after Labour's disastrous showing in the elections, Eamon Gilmore was gone on May 26. He fell so swiftly on his sword that he caught a gang of mutineers by surprise before they could spring their no-confidence motion. And he behaved impeccably during the prolonged succession race, then gritted his teeth and smiled nicely for the cameras when Joan was elected.

The Least Surprising Election Result since North Korea Went to the Polls: The Dream Team

One could cut the tension in the Mansion House with a rubber knife on July 4 when the results of the never-ending Labour leadership contest were announced – and it was Joan Burton by a long neck, with 2,094 votes to Alex White's 607. Kim Jong-un would've been proud,

Best Lead Actor in a Tragi-Comedy: Christy Burke

The Garth Brooks brouhaha wasn't so much a drama as an utterly surreal soap opera, complete with a cast of cowboys, councillors, country fans, city managers, promoters, the Mexican ambassador, the President of America and the GAA. But the star of the show was Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke, whose plaintive pleas for the five concerts to proceed were almost Peig-like. "The country wants you, the country needs you," he implored. To no avail.

The Arts-from-Elbow Citation: Heather Humphreys

Nobody looked more shell-shocked than the new Arts Minister when she proceeded into the Dail chamber with the rest of the reshuffled pack on July 11. The Cavan-Monaghan TD may yet silence the snobbish luvvies who sniffed at her appointment.

The Order of the Mahogany Gaspipe to Joe McHugh

There was uproar, ri-ra agus ruaille-buaille when Donegal deputy Joe McHugh was unveiled as the junior minister for the Gaeltacht on July 15, and him with only the cupla focail.

But the canny TD promptly signed up for a summer crash-course in Glencolmcille, while also explaining in a round of interviews that he reflects that part of the populace which can muddle by with a bit of Irish but harbour ambitions to improve. Maith an fear, Seosamh.

Irish Independent

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