Wednesday 11 December 2019

Lise Hand: Dail's Halloween horror show upstaged by Lord of the Rings

Lise Hand

Michael Ring turned the volume all the way up to 11. The Fine Gael frontbencher had just had a really, really good idea and wanted to ensure that everyone -- both inside the Dail chamber and up the road in the bar of the Shelbourne Hotel -- could hear him clearly.

"Now look at the mess we're in, and look at the mess this country is in," he hollered.

"Next year the queen is talking about coming to Ireland for a state visit, and maybe we should say to the queen when she comes, 'you know, we have our own independence now, we'll hand you back the country and we'll apologise for the mess that we're after making of it'," he bellowed.

"Because at least when they were running the country they didn't put it into the mess and the hock that we're in now," bellowed Ring the Royalist.

Who knew? Who would've guessed that inside that fierce Mayo chest beat the heart of a loyal subject of the British crown? And he a fellow countyman of Michael Davitt, founding father of the Land League, not to mention the blue-shirted spiritual son of Michael Collins.

What was going through Michael Ring's head when he made this show-stopping contribution to the debate on the frightful horror show of the €15bn black hole in the economy?

Was it literally just the first thought that popped into his head, but bypassed the brain bit and instead exited unchecked through his motor-mouth? Or was this declaration of no independence simply due to the fact that Michael harbours dreams of alternative advancement?

If he doesn't make Enda Kenny's Cabinet after the next election (assuming Fine Gael hold it together until then), perhaps a grateful sovereign would bestow a knighthood on him for leading the charge back into the British fold. Sure then he could strut around the byways of Mayo bearing the lofty title Lord of the Rings.

But it was one of the few attention-grabbing, hare-brained exchanges in a day-long procession of dispiriting speeches on the horrible prospect of scraping together €15bn over the next four years of Budgets.

Maybe if the boys in the backroom had called it something else, something seasonally scary, like 'The Kildare Chainsaw Massacre' or 'The Taoiseach Rides Out', then perhaps more deputies might have shown up for day one of a two-day debate on the Halloween horror show.

Instead there weren't many political posteriors-on-seats for the session which went under the Soviet era-style moniker, 'Statements on Macro-Economic and Fiscal Outlook'.

Nor were there many Michael Ring-style diversions from the grim business at hand. Instead the gloom was increased by the likes of Michael Noonan who painted a scene of such cheerless misery that the Fine Gael finance spokesman could have lifted it straight from the pages of Charles Dickens.

"Things are very bad and people are very down and depressed. When I went knocking on doors after the summer, people were angry but that anger has nearly gone out of them by now," he sepulchrally told Brian Lenihan.

"They are down and do not see any hope of recovery. While this varies from family to family, I wish to stress at the outset how gloomy and down people are at present. Members of almost every family are out of work. Parents are deprived of the company of their adult children who are to be found everywhere in the world," continued a dismal Noonan.

Good grief. Noonan may have been hamming it a bit for Halloween, but it was all true. What can be done to save us? How can we turn our once-proud nation back into a Land of Hope and Glory ... Oh, hang on a minute ...

Irish Independent

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