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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Some tongue-in-beak exchanges as gate fever puts Seanad in a giddy humour

Published 18/07/2014 | 02:30

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Senator Ned O’Sullivan has called for action against Dublin’s seagulls
Senator Ned O’Sullivan has called for action against Dublin’s seagulls

Perhaps the good senator had been eating cheese late the previous evening, and had dreamed of sinister flocks of angry birds wheeling and shrieking Hitchcock-style over his leaba even as he slept.

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Ned O'Sullivan was in a terrible state altogether over those feathered fiends, The Seagulls.

The penultimate Order of Business of the political year was tipping along nicely in the Seanad yesterday morning, as senators settled in their comfy chairs and worked on their lists of holiday packing (bucket, spade, togs, Guerin Report into garda misconduct).

Then up flew the Fianna Fail senator to express his disquiet at the unruly carry-on in the skies over the capital. While he can "take or leave pigeons", the Listowel native proclaimed himself to be "very much against seagulls".

Ned announced that "the seagulls have lost the run of themselves completely. In the apartment block I live in, it is impossible to get a night's sleep".

The Cathlaoirleach Paddy Bourke reckoned he was winging it. "You're losing the run of yourself," he advised Ned, but the Kerryman was on a roll.

"It's the last day. Give me wings," he pleaded, tongue-in-beak.

"They're very raucous and are keeping people awake. They are getting so cheeky now that they attack young children and dispossess them of their lollipops and stuff like that," he claimed.

Golly. Who knew we had been invaded by some scary race of zombie gulls?

It's surely only a matter of time before they decide to upgrade from human waste and start feasting on human flesh.

It certainly was the most startling seagull intervention since Eric Cantona emoted so memorably about seagulls and trawlers and sardines, but it was right on schedule – inevitably a bit of bonkers behaviour breaks out this time every year, as gate fever grips the denizens of Leinster House.

They are almost out the gap, bucket and spade at the ready. People get a bit giddy, and Monty Python-esque moments arise.

It usually happens in the Dail chamber, but this time the mood was quite fractious on their last day, as tempers rose over the conflict in Gaza.

Mary Lou McDonald went on the attack, accusing the Tanaiste of giving a "limp and lily-livered" response to a question on Gaza raised by Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue.

But Joan Burton disagreed, adding: "You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the appalling deaths in Gaza."

Having lost the battle to extend the Dail term by a day to debate the situation in Gaza, Gerry Adams promptly ambushed the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett.

"A Cheann Comhairle, I very much regret that the Government has ruled out this debate. I ask you to invite the Dail to stand for one minute in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the Middle East," he announced, as behind him a cohort of Sinn Fein deputies rose to their feet, holding aloft small Palestinian flags.

A startled Ceann Comhairle began to protest. "Sorry ... " he said, but it was too late, as the rest of the deputies in the chamber stood also.

Sean was unimpressed with Gerry's usurpation of his authority.

"Excuse me. We are in session. I ask that if you have a proposal like that in future, you will pay the Chair the courtesy of giving me advance notice," he scolded the clearly unrepentant party leader.

But after all the drama of recent reshuffle days, it was a low-key end to proceedings.

By 5pm, the only sound to be heard around Leinster House was the screech of circling seagulls. In fairness, Ned O'Sullivan had a point.

The bloody birds are everywhere these days, and one innocent bystander loitering on a bench on the plinth last week found herself splattered with an unfragrant and unwelcome present from above.

Surely to heavens, with all that's going on in the world, seagulls have no place being name-checked in the Upper House of the Oireachtas?

But then many would agree that the Seanad is for the birds anyway.

Irish Independent

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