Thursday 14 December 2017

Eilis O'Hanlon: Another cautionary tale about drink laid bare for us all to see

'Lapgate' has again shown how our love affair with alcohol even impinges on matters so crucial to our nation.

Eilis O'Hanlon

Only three people know for certain how much Tom Barry had to drink before he pulled fellow TD Aine Collins on to his lap during last week's abortion debate: the man himself, the man upstairs, and the man behind the Dail bar. All the Fine Gaeler will say is: "I wasn't drinking excessively." A phrase which, of course, means precisely nothing. We'd really have to know what Tom Barry considers excessive before deciding whether we think his intake had been, as it were, surplus to requirements. One man's couple of pints is another man's EU wine lake.

But it certainly isn't a coincidence that most people in the country, when they heard about this incident, immediately presumed that there must have been – in that priceless Irish phrase – drink taken. Probably because they've all either been guilty of, or on the receiving end of, the same booze-fuelled idiocy at some murky 2.40am in the past.

Some people were keen to see what Barry did to Aine Collins as an example of sexism in the workplace. It certainly wouldn't have happened to a man, and blaming a "lack of heating" for the incident, because she'd told Barry moments before that she was freezing and he was jokingly trying to warm her up, only made it worse. "Lack of heating" now joins "the money was only resting in my account" in the pantheon of Great Irish Excuses.

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