My week: Michael Noonan
Published 04/09/2016 | 02:30
Monday: I can't say I've ever taken to that Victor Meldrew fellow. Far too upbeat and happy-go-lucky for my liking. But today, I know just how he feels. All day I've been wandering round Government Buildings, shaking my head and muttering: "I don't believe it."
Years I've spent bigging up the EU. Years. There's been no greater servant of the European project than Michael Noonan. Even when the Troika came in and royally shafted each and every one of us, there I stood, reassuring the Irish people it was for the best. Now look what they've done.
It's Commissioner Margrethe Vestager I'm most disappointed with. She was over here in July, you know. Nice as ninepence, she was. There wasn't a peep out of her that the brown stuff was about to hit the fan. Not a peep. She even laughed every time I introduced myself with my little catchphrase: "Noonan's the name, numbers are the game."
I can't understand it. I showed her all my figures. I gave her long lectures on the history of Irish fiscal policy. I thought I'd droned her into submission. That's my secret super power. I make my voice go so dreary and quiet that listeners are hypnotised into agreeing with every word I say. "You are feeling sleepy, very sleepy… when I snap my fingers, you will remember nothing except my monotonous purring… now repeat after me: we have done nothing wrong."
How did it not work? It does the trick on the Cabinet every time. Sigh. Where do we sign up for Irexit?
Tuesday: The word is out. Our deal with Apple is the talk of the town. I'm on RTE News outlining why I don't want its €13 billun. Trying to explain economics to journalists is like teaching astrophysics to a donkey, but it has to be done. I just remember to talk even… more… slowly… than… usual. Slower even than I talk to Health Minister Simon Harris when saying no, son, you can't have another few millun to paint scenes from Disney fillums in hospital corridors to cheer up patients on trolleys.
I know it looks daft to turn down shedloads of free money from the world's richest corporation; it could probably find that much spare change down the back of the chairs in the boardroom. But this is a matter of principle. It's about standing up for Ireland's right to set its own tax rates without interference.
"To do anything else would be like eating the seed potatoes," I say. No, I don't know what it means either, but I'm fierce fond of potatoes. Is it lunch yet?
At one point during the day, it does cross my magnificent mind why I wasn't this tough when Europe landed us with a bill for billuns for bailing out the banks, but regrets would be like planting the seed potatoes after you've eaten them and hoping for carrots to grow in their place.
Later I'm on CNBC to explain that Europe is "over-reaching on their competence" - and trust me, if anyone knows about over-reaching on its competence, it's this Government.
Wednesday: We're in trouble now, lads. The Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit/Sinn Fein/Socialist Messers 'R' Us crowd have all come out against us. Jaysus knows how long it must've taken them to explain the ruling to Gerry Adams, using buttons and a copy of Economics For Dummies, but this could bring down the Government.
Huh, ha, huh, just my little joke. These are the same people who wanted to tell the EU to get lost and take their money with them a while back when we didn't have an arse in our trousers and were as popular on the international money markets as a Brazilian copper in Pat Hickey's house.
Now they expect people to believe they're the EU's biggest fans? They've more chance of persuading the voters that Richard Boyd Barrett is working class.
I head to the Cabinet meeting for some light relief. Of course we're going to appeal the decision. The Independent Alliance isn't going to pull the plug over this. If it was just after easy popularity, it would never have joined this rickety coalition in the first place.
Thursday: There are whispers up and down Fine Gael circles that I should have prepared the country better for this announcement from Europe. They're saying I "dropped the ball" and "let the side down". Half this shower wouldn't even have scraped back into the Dail if it hadn't been for my steadying hand. Even Labour leader Brendan Howlin's having a go. Whatever happened to that Best Friends Forever routine he gave me when he was Minister For Publicly Taking The Rap For Cutting Expenditure?
Friday: Off to the second cabinet meeting of the week, with news that Big Phil Hogan's gone native and is backing the EU's decision on Apple. We should never have made him EU Commissioner, though admittedly until this week finding any Blueshirt willing to stand up for Irish interests against the EU was like looking for silverware in Limerick's trophy cabinet.
Afterwards, I announce that we are indeed appealing this bizarre and outrageous diktat to a higher authority. How dare the EU boss us around, even if they have been doing it for years without any complaint from us. No more! We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them in the fields and on the streets, we shall fight them in the hills. We shall never surrender. Well, not until we do.
*As imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon