Monday 18 November 2019

Lise Hand: Everyone shot JR in this particular soap opera

Lise Hand

WHO shot JR? Well, Roisin may have snatched the spotlight last week as the 'Dallas'-style femme fatale who fired the first bullet into James Reilly, but the Dail has now seen a right old shoot 'em up featuring the hapless Health Minister.

They were lining up like a row of trolleys in an A&E department to have a go, encouraged by the fact that one of his very own junior ministers, Roisin Shortall, had opened the huntin', spinnin' and snipin' season last week with a sulky refusal to openly declare her support.

But at least his other junior minister was standing by her medical man -- for James entered the shooting-gallery, sorry, Dail chamber, side by side with Kathleen Lynch.

But, not even the feisty Cork North Central deputy could shield him from the barrage of blame, and the controversy-du-jour selected for the menu was the news that the minister had included two primary-care centres in his constituency.

Micheal Martin got stuck right in as soon as the starting-flag was raised on Leader's Questions.

"The minister is wrong in terms of the decision that he took. Do you agree that the minister's action is inappropriate and unacceptable?" he asked the Taoiseach.

Enda turned on his taxi-meter and took the meandering scenic route to a reply.

But Micheal was seeking a scalp (or a beard), and used Rebellious Roisin as a stick with which to poke the Coalition.

"What's clear from all of this is that Minister Shortall plays by the rules, Minister Reilly does not play by the rules.

"This has been another stroke in the Government's stroke politics," lamented Micheal without a soupcon of shame.

"Surely, a Taoiseach who is so critical of Fianna Fail and the administration that went before this one, should ensure that he calls time where strokes are pulled by senior ministers?" he wondered.

Enda first tried his standard counter-attack -- which is to point the finger right back at the feckless soldiers of Fianna Fail, when he was suddenly lifted out of it by a chorus of derisive groans rising from the visitor's gallery above his startled head.

It transpired that Richard Boyd Barrett had brought a group of about 50 home carers and they were all fired up for a bit of booing at Evil Enda.

But Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald also had JR in her gun-sights, and the Taoiseach eventually rushed to the defence of his colleague, denouncing as "contemptible" the allegation that the Health Minister had sought any personal benefit.

By Mary Lou was in rare accord with Micheal Martin -- she too reckoned there were "stroke politics" at work.

Once again Enda took the pin from a red-herring grenade and lobbed it at the Sinn Fein bench, attempting to introduce the incendiary (literally) statements of the Price sisters about Gerry Adams into the debate.

Behind Mary Lou, Padraig MacLochlainn loudly threw the head. "For God's sake will you ever once answer a very simple question put to you," he roared.

A few seats away, JR looked glum. This soap hasn't reached the end of its run yet. Not by a long shot.

Irish Independent

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