Wednesday 17 July 2019

Brian finds life was easier for him in the trenches

The new Commander-in-Chief had a bit of a tough time on the battlefield of the Dail chamber yesterday, as he faced some feisty barrages from opposition snipers.

Earlier in the afternoon during Taoiseach's Questions, he found himself dodging flak about his former boss and fallen comrade, Bertie, and the battleground of the Mahon Tribunal.

Despite the best efforts of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore to prise information on requests for files by the tribunal, Brian was saying nothing about anything.

It wasn't his fault though -- it was all hush-hush, he patiently explained.

"As I said in my reply, I am not in a position to discuss, with regard to any of these matters, issues which the tribunals themselves have stated are highly confidential," he said repeatedly. "It is a matter for the tribunals to disclose if they so wish".

However Enda was keeping his powder dry until Leader's Question Time later in the afternoon, and unleashed another round of bullets in the direction of the taoiseach.

Attack

Launching another attack on the under-fire HSE, the Fine Gael leader cited the case of Ann Kealy who died of cancer last year after an initial scan diagnosed her with pneumonia, and who was sent two letters this week from the HSE.

"Does this not amount to a cluster bomb of offences? It is a cluster bomb of incidents of mismanagement and further mismanagement," thundered Enda who several times declared Mary Harney to be the "Minister for Chaos and Health". (Once Enda takes a liking to a phrase, it comes out of the verbal hat more often than a conjorer's rabbit).

Brian didn't take too kindly to Enda's unflattering description of his comrade-in-arms.

"It is unfortunate the leader of the opposition insists on characterising the Minister in that way," he growled.

"Obviously it is done for political reasons," he added, launching a mini counter-attack.

"There is a sufficient level of public anxiety without inflaming the issue or misrepresenting it to gain political effect," he sniped back.

But Fine Gael's Shane McEntee sailed into battle. "The Taoiseach is totally out of line and he should withdraw that remark," he roared, rising to his feet.

Brian wasn't in the mood for all-out war, and began to pick his way out of the minefield.

"Before Deputy Kenny put forward his robust supplementary question, we are trying to reassure people in a proportionate way," he said in his best reasonable tone.

However, he wasn't quite out of the woods yet.

Eamon Gilmore lobbed in a new grenade, seeking information on the withdrawal of the McNamara-Castlethorn consortium from five public private partnerships with Dublin City Council for the regeneration of several areas of the city.

Appeared

Brian appeared not to be properly armed to repel this ambush.

He was waiting for a report from the Minister for the Environment, he explained somewhat plaintively on three occasions, deploying the classic dog-ate-my-homework defensive manouevre.

The job must have looked easier from his old position in the trenches, one chair to the left of the hot-seat.

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