Friday 30 September 2016

Minister for Wobbles loses his rattle again

Published 09/09/2016 | 02:30

John Halligan TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
John Halligan TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took ... Sound familiar? It ought to. It is Aesop's Fable, number 210; better known as the "Boy who cried Wolf". It ends badly for everyone.

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That is why it is told to small children as a cautionary tale about consequences and actions. John Halligan may be a "Junior" Minister, but he is behaving like he belongs in "Senior Infants". Infants like to throw the rattle out of the pram to keep the attention of those watching over them. They can play this game for a very long time until either one or two things happen: The baby gets bored and stops, or the indulgent carer gets vexed and the baby gets scolded.

John Halligan is about to get scolded. The national parliament is not a crèche where those who throw the biggest theatrical tantrums get to wear the tiara. He has made himself the Minister for Wobbles.

Although attached to Cabinet, he appears to be a government of one. His latest histrionics centre on University Hospital Waterford. But the Government cannot go against the clinical assessment of the hospital's needs. But Mr Halligan has form; he declared he would not pay water charges.

He also voted against the Government on the fatal foetal abnormality bill. Mr Halligan has not got his way, and has made it known that he will not be walking out of Government "for the time being".

It is said that when one is in a fix, the fix is often to be found in one. John Halligan needs to have a quiet word with himself. Playing with the stability of Government with so much at stake is irresponsible.

Even so, it appears that having marched up and down all the hills and valleys of his undulating conscience; making optimal use of the best military strategies - as laid down in the Grand Old Duke of York's military manual - the Government, and the whole nation, must further await Mr Halligan's final decision.

Beefing up Garda force in more ways than one

Not only is the reach of the long arm of the law to be extended with 3,000 new recruits, but it is to become more muscular as completing a new physical test becomes part of the process.

Most of us think exercise is a good thing and are quite prepared to watch people taking it from the comfort of the couch for hours on end.

Indeed, did none other than Neil Armstrong once say: "I believe that every human has a finite amount of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercise." It is difficult to imagine what the first members of An Garda Síochána, when it came into being out of the Irish Civic Guard in 1925, would have said had they been asked to: "Weave through cones, walk along a balance beam, or lift a car wheel and carry it three metres."

All the same, it is a safe bet that their language would have been as blue as the uniforms worn by today's members. A policeman's lot may not have always been a happy one but at least in the past, no garda was ever required to: "Drag a 45kg mannequin two metres, or climb over a gate in order to get into the ranks."

One assumes carrying the aforementioned wheel is all about losing the spare tyre, so to speak.

Presumably it all adds up to making sure that the 'Thin Blue Line' stays that way.

Irish Independent

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