Saturday 20 January 2018

No sex but plenty of talk about getting whipped into shape

Lise Hand in Glenties

OUTSIDE the MacGill Summer School, the Donegal rain was hammering down like the iron fist of Big Phil upon dodgers of the Household Charge.

Inside the hall, the subject-matter was grey, too. Academic Elaine Byrne was musing upon the phenomenal sales of that bold book, '50 Shades of Grey'.

"It sold 25,000 copies in one week, so that tells me there's something going on among women in Ireland. It's something we don't talk about -- I don't hear any conversations around the kitchen table about bondage and sadomasochism or things like that," she pondered aloud.

Head muinteoir Joe Mulholland was getting nervous. "We don't do sex at the MacGill," he half-joked.

But it could be argued that the theme of yesterday's gabathon was whipping --, whipping into shape the body politic (which has been very naughty indeed for years now).

First to dole out punishment was Fianna Fail senator Averil Power, who desired that all candidates for public office sign a legally binding ethical pledge before hitting the hustings, and also that an independent watchdog committee be set up to discipline any offenders.

This, she declared, would prevent politicians from being able to "lawyer up" to dodge legitimate questions.

"This must apply whether they are scruffy-looking new deputies or sitting Taoisigh".

Mid-afternoon, it was the turn of the splendidly peppery former PD leader, Dessie O'Malley. He wanted to whip our ancient and bockety Constitution into the 21st Century.

"When will we have a referendum to remove the provision which in effect says a woman's place is in the home?" he asked.

Suspicion

Just before 5pm, the Taoiseach bustled into the Highland Hotel. Enda Kenny had political corruption in his gunsights. Asked about the Moriarty Tribunal findings, he declared: "I accept the Moriarty Report in its entirety."

"There will be no more doubt, no more suspicion between business and politics. And as for corrupt politicians themselves -- the days of getting away with it are now over," he said, adding a world of pain would await miscreants, courtesy of new legislation from Alan Shatter.

"If convicted of a corruption offence, Oireachtas members could be subject of a court order to forfeit their office and be excluded from seeking office again for up to 10 years," he said, to approving applause.

And he also had the quaking senators begging for mercy, sticking to his pledge to hold a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad -- despite a group of former denizens of the Upper House penning an open letter calling for its retention.

To round off the day, Joan Burton, deputy dominatrix of the Labour Party, lashed out at "many of the business people who donned the green jersey during the boom years (who) have shown an extraordinary lack of loyalty to the State in putting their private wealth beyond the reach of their creditors."

She added: "I can assure you too the future will be different and this Government will put in the hands of the judiciary plenty of legal weapons with which to deal with bribery and corruption allegations."

Irish Independent

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