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Little Richard asks for protection from the baying Dail mob

He's got a double-barrelled name and Richard Boyd Barrett endured a baptism of fire from both barrels from the Coalition yesterday.

The Dun Laoghaire TD has taken over from Joe Higgins as questioner from the United Left Alliance to the Taoiseach and Tanaiste on the high-profile Leaders' Questions slot in the Dail schedule.

But the People Before Profit TD endured a shaky start. Dressed in a wine-coloured, suede shirt, hanging out over his jeans, he was bouncing on the spot as he read out a pre-prepared script and discarded his notes as he proceeded.

Spotting the sheets of paper being thrown to the floor, Fine Gael TD James Bannon began the heckling: "Have you a litter bin for your notes?"

Mr Boyd Barrett continued to question Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore on the introduction of water charges. Quoting EU regulations, he claimed they would result in water services being privatised.

The cacophony of slagging increased, prompting the left-wing TD to seek the protection of the Ceann Comhairle.

"Could you quell the mob?" he pleaded.

Bad choice of language for a man so frequently associated with protests and who failed to condemn the violence at the Labour Party conference last weekend as Justice Minister Alan Shatter pointed out: "You were leading the mob."

Worse was to come as Boyd Barrett eventually finished up his rather long-winded question.

Pat Rabbitte drew upon his years of dry wit to conjure up a classic putdown.

"Just because you have a double barrelled name doesn't give you two questions."

The Government and opposition benches alike cracked up laughing.

Joe Higgins tried to defend his protege by countering to the Communications Minister about his "double chin".

But it was too late.

RBB was a laughing stock on his debut and the mob will smell blood every time he steps up.

Irish Independent