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Enda snaps as Richard 'Jaws' Barrett makes waves

It was reminiscent of that poignant scene in 'The Wizard of Oz' when a doe-eyed Dorothy cuddles her little dog and whispers, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."

Richard Boyd Barrett was going great guns yesterday in the Dail. He was on his feet during Leaders' Questions, giving out yards to the Taoiseach about the household charge.

Oh yes, like the evil shark in 'Jaws', it hasn't gone away, you know.

The household charge hoo-hah merely subsided beneath the waves while other national distractions such as the treaty referendum, the Euro 2012 finals and the ongoing spatter-movie that is the eurozone crisis took centre-stage.

Last night, Sinn Fein put forward a private members' bill calling for the repeal of the tax and there are already rumblings of disquiet in some sections of the Labour Party over what sort of property tax will replace it next year.

The People before Profit deputy decided to make a few waves of his own over the issue.

Richard got stuck in with gusto. "Why do you not admit that the Government's effort to impose household charges and property taxes on ordinary working people is a shambles? They are not wanted by the people, are unjust and should be completely abandoned," he declared.

And he even had a newsflash of his own to impart. "On July 18, the last day of the Dail before the summer recess, a national demonstration called by the campaign against household and water charges will demonstrate at the Dail," he announced with evident relish.

The Taoiseach assumed the mien of a disappointed muinteoir. "You should be ashamed, as a legislator, to come into this House, which passes the laws of the land and where people have their say for and against, while encouraging people deliberately to break the law," he said.

And then he dropped a sly bombshell of his own. "You should not assume the Dail will rise for the summer recess on that date. He might be speaking in Molesworth Street on that day but find that the Dail will sit for a further period. I would be careful about that if I were he," he warned.

Well. Faces fell faster than global stock markets on a jittery Monday.

If Enda had eyes in the back of his head, he would've noticed that his own backbenchers looked as stricken as the Opposition. For buckets and spades are bought. Cruises booked. Golf-clubs polished. Surely he was only pulling Richard's leg. Wasn't he?

However, moments later the Dun Laoghaire deputy inadvertently lifted the pall of gloom. He was in full flow and decided to name-drop a little.

"When laws are unjust, as people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King understood very well. . ." he began, as guffaws rose instantly.

Enda was out of the traps like a starving greyhound, scarcely able to believe the open goal in front of him. "I'm not sure what tablets you took today but for him to equate yourself or put yourself in the mix with Gandhi and Martin Luther King is a bridge too far," he reckoned.

"But Richard does have something in common with Martin Luther King and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi," whispered one observer. "They all have double-barrelled names."

There you go, deputy. Every cloud, and all that.

Irish Independent