Saturday 7 December 2019

The birds are really tough in Dublin...

Silly season: Tippi Hedren fell ‘fowl’ to some angry birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film The Birds
Silly season: Tippi Hedren fell ‘fowl’ to some angry birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film The Birds
Senator Ned O’Sullivan has called for action against Dublin’s seagulls

Yes, yes, yes. I know, it's the silly season. In fact, one way of terrifying baby columnists is to whisper in hushed, terrified tones of that dreaded time of the year when politicians take a few weeks off to get some well deserved rest and - ahem - intellectual recuperation.

These are the days when anyone working in the media is reduced to the role of 'seagulls following a trawler', to quote the great and reliably bonkers Eric Cantona.

But who needs Eric Cantona for an Irish silly season? In fact, the Irish silly season is undoubtedly the silliest of all the seasons and that's the way we should keep it. If we can't be proud of much in this country, then surely we can take a weird, perverse and gloriously twisted pride in the fact that our silly season is far sillier than anything those staid and repressed Brits have to offer.

And the reason for such unwarranted and, I must admit, uncharacteristic pride in the supremacy of our silliness over the silliness of the people across the water? Well, in England, the big laugh yesterday was that Michael Gove, the recently defenestrated former Minister for Talking Proper was stuck in a loo in the House of Parliament yesterday.

That was moderately silly, and the kind of pun-providing fodder that keeps us happy.

But laughing in the face of Gove's toilet-related mishaps comes Senator Ned O'Sullivan and his eloquent justification of why we need to keep our Upper House - skobie seagulls.

According to our heroic Parliamentarian - who is from Kerry, but you can only use that as an excuse so many times before it becomes tired - the seagulls that live near his Dublin apartment "have lost the run of themselves entirely".

In fact, he took the stage during yesterday's Order of Business to lambast these feckless birds for being mean and nasty to the locals and apparently they have even resorted to "stealing children's lollipops."

Frankly, given the way some of his fellow politicos have tried to blame childhood obesity on everything from the scourge of ice-cream vans to TV ads for fast food, I would have thought the errant birds were doing some sort of social service by depriving Ireland's roly-poly children of their sugary treats. But no, as usual I was wrong.

In a speech which could teach Nelson Mandela a thing or two about highlighting social injustice, he further railed against how these avian delinquents are loud, noisy, seem to pay absolutely no attention to noise pollution laws and, in classic Liveline fashion, he wants "something to be done".

Frankly, when he appeared on the radio yesterday, I half expected some furious Dublin seagull to come on the other line and accuse O'Sullivan of only being a bleedin' culchie who should flap off back to Kerry. But while we were deprived of the prospect of a perfectly heated row between a Senator and some angry bird (I promised myself I wouldn't make that pun, but failed. Sorry), we were instead treated to the kind of silliness that would make the Minister for Silly Walks sit up and take notice - in a suitably amusing fashion.

Obviously, we should be cognisant of the fact that Senator O'Sullivan's crowning political moment so far was being outed as the bloke who used an Oireachtas phone to vote loads of times for his fellow Kerryman Jackie Healy Rae during an RTE reality show a few years ago.

So I suppose we should be grateful that he has now found bigger fish - whoops, wrong species - to fry. The seagulls are, we were told, 'cunning' and 'intelligent' and are even 'evolving' - although it's possible that O'Sullivan's people in Kerry will not appreciate him dragging evolution into the debate - after all, some would seem to disprove that controversial theory.

But there's a rather important point that the good Senator has brought up and we should thank him for it.

After all, as he points out, he spends his time in Dublin in an apartment by the coast and who on earth ever thought that you'd get seagulls by the sea?

Maybe they do things differently where he comes from (in fact, they definitely do things differently where he comes from) but many of us would have thought that living by the sea means you will, occasionally, come into contact with seagulls. The clue is kinda in the name.

Frankly, it's a bit like O'Sullivan going out to Howth this Sunday and then being shocked and appalled by all those free-loading, scrounging seals who gather at the harbour to be fed by soft-hearted visitors.

In fact, is he the only man to realise that such a practice will only encourage laziness and the expectation of freebies and benefits?

Apparently, and I could be open to correction on this issue, he even thinks that Dubbalin seagulls are different to the ones where he comes from. Maybe the jackeen birds have a harsher way about them? Were they wearing tiny, itsy bitsy teeny weeny hoodies with the Dublin GAA crest on them when they were stealing his lollipops?

We live in a weird rural/urban divide that is only made weirder by the fact that there is now no real difference between the two except for the most important geographic space of all - the bit between your ears that sometimes allows you think.

But you know we have truly embraced silly season when we have an elected (actually, he's a Senator, so he's not actually elected, but that's Irish democracy for ye) member of our Upper House railing against city birds and their weird and freakish ways.

But you know what?

I doubt it's even seagulls.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if O'Sullivan has actually been shaken down by Dustin the Turkey who was only masquerading as a seagull to throw unsuspecting rurals off the scent.

And you know what culchies are like - all birds look the same to them.

Now where was I?

Just don't call it silly season.

Oh no, we've gone far beyond that...

Ian O'Doherty

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss