Monday 9 December 2019

Yes, it's a Happy Halloween they have planned for us

We're all invited to the celebration -- just don't expect to see much in your party bag, writes Joseph O'Connor

Well, readers, it's that time of the year again. Ogres, banshees, scary creatures from the past; a coven of frightening individuals cackling over the bloodcurdling fate they have in mind for us.

Yes, it's the Cabinet meeting to plan the Budget. And isn't it wonderful that it took place in an atmospheric old mansion? Farmleigh cost the taxpayer only €50m. Thrilling to see the Cabinet members sweeping up to it, limousines shining. And people say they're out of touch with the public!

Actually, the Government had planned on cancelling Halloween this year, since holding it, like holding the Donegal by-election, would only be a distraction from the real issues. Yes, Daniel O'Connell struggled all his life so that we would be able to choose who would represent us in parliament, but we mustn't let these little sentimentalities get in the way. Democracy is all very nice when things are going well, but when things get tough, as they sometimes do, we would be wise to remember that ancient Irish proverb: "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer."

Halloween used to provide an occasion for the children of the nation to dress up and play a variety of enjoyable parlour games, of the type so frequently enjoyed in Leinster House. Some say our politicians behave very immaturely in that place, but I don't agree at all. Personally I'm greatly looking forward to the next debate of the Mammy He Stole My Lollipop sub- committee.

Ah yes, it's a Happy Halloween they have planned for us this year, although with the downturn there will have to be certain adjustments, as we know, and we're going to be hollowed out like a pumpkin.

This year we'll be dunking for the mortgage payment instead of an apple, our heads being helpfully held under the water by Biffo. My, how we'll laugh as he allows us up for air, long enough to give our sweeties to a banker. A voucher for a hip replacement operation will be baked into a brack, though terms and conditions will apply and the procedure will be available only on a certain Tuesday in 2015.

Mr Lenihan, meanwhile, will be in the kitchen at the party, explaining his latest solution to our difficulties. From now on, we're to hand over our wage packet in its entirety to the Government and it will give us back a little pocket money if we're good. Conor Lenihan will be chucking monkey nuts at members of the opposition, and Bertie Ahern will be in a cupboard, smiling. Yes, it's the season when things go bump in the night. Things like having respect for the office you held, and for the voters who pay for your limo.

When I was a lad, my old granddad used to do conjuring tricks for us at Halloween, and I'm hoping this fine tradition continues. He would make a 50 pence coin disappear in the palm of his hand, but our Government is able to do even better. Fifty billion vanishes before your very eyes? It's the magical wonder called Anglo!

Our fine opposition won't be found wanting. Sure they love a good knees-up!

Enda Kenny will be coming to the party disguised as a credible Taoiseach who can command the support of the Irish people -- well, it is only a bit of fun -- and Eamon Gilmore will be attending in a costume we've all come to love of late: the Man Who is Everything to Everyone. Thrill as you watch him perform his incredible feat of single-handedly obliterating the deficit while making happiness rain from the sky and a unicorn's kiss for everyone in the audience.

Sinn Fein will be bringing the fireworks if it can find some in the attic, scary laughter to be provided by Richard Bruton.

What of the rest of us? What of Mother Ireland?

Well, she'll be trick-or- treating around the bond auctions of the neighbourhood, holding out her bag for whatever leftovers are available from the loan sharks who live in posh houses. She'll have to perform a bit of a party-piece in order to get the treats: lengthen the dole queue, scare everyone witless. But if she's very, very good and she does what she's told, they might sell us a KitKat and an orange.

'The Drivetime Diaries', a CD of Joseph O'Connor's radio columns for RTE, has just been released and is at number one in the Irish indie album charts. He will give a week of readings, with music from Philip King of Scullion, in 'Whole World Round' at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, November 15-20, booking at www.abbeytheatre.ie

Sunday Independent

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