For the Chinese, 2010 may have been the year of the Tiger, but here in Ireland, it will be remembered as the Year of the Twat, as a procession of losers, has-beens and never-wozzes took turns to try to outdo each other with a heady cocktail of misplaced arrogance, self-love and self-importance.
Back in January, Noel gave us one of the most memorable images of 2010, which kick-started the contempt most people developed for Irish politicians. As the country ground to a standstill in the first Big Freeze, Minister for Transport Dempsey was pictured rubbing suntan lotion onto his belly in Malta. But the arrogance didn't stop there -- fast forward to Christmas, and while much of Co Meath was covered in snow and ice, the small road leading to Dempsey's house was mysteriously gritted. From Malta, Dempsey complained that his department could function perfectly well without him. Which is probably true -- so why did we pay this clown €200,000-plus expenses for the last 12 months?
Last month, I dared to suggest that Jim's rantings about the Irish economic crisis being deliberately caused by 'elite international bankers' was a bit rich, considering that Jim himself, as someone who owes a substantial amount of money to ACC bank for a property deal that turned sour, is actually part of the problem. Cue an avalanche of abuse via Facebook from his many followers and Jim himself, who demanded my home address so his solicitor could send me a writ. The irony of this, however -- Jim had himself for months managed to dodge ACC's attempts to issue him with legal proceedings at his own home -- was seemingly lost on the great man. Some people see Jim as a visionary. Others see him a fearless truth seeker. The rest of us? We just see him as a bit of a twat.
Sure, there are more wretched, corrupt politicians than Gogarty. But for sheer unpleasantness and delusions about his ability or popularity, it's impossible to top the Green's Top Twat -- foul-mouthed, oily-haired, publicity-mad Paul Gogarty. Saying 'f*** you' to a fellow TD in the Dail; blowing a sarcastic kiss to anti-civil partnership protestors outside Leinster House, and ultimately, bringing his young daughter (and her teddy bear) to a press conference, Gogarty tried to sound like he was the first man in history who ever had to juggle fatherhood and a full-time job. Don't worry Paul, after the next election, you should no longer have that problem.
Jason O'Toole and Patrick Bergin
Two twats, joined at the terminally unhip. Nothing summed up the fleeting nature of success better than the Mail On Sunday's interview between O'Toole and 'movie star' Bergin, pictured inset.
Like two bewildered has-beens wondering where their credibility had gone, Ireland's most loathsome journalist chewed the fat (it didn't take him long) with Ireland's most hilariously over-the-hill actor. Though he hasn't had a hit in 19 years -- he will always be Patrick 'Sleeping With The Enemy' Bergin -- Patrick continues to throw movie star shapes wherever he goes, with his trademark full-length leather coat and twat-like wearing of dark shades indoors. So who better to interview him than O'Toole, who continues to dine out on his sketchy acquaintance with Katy French, wheeling out his tawdry anecdotes ad nauseam. O'Toole and Bergin in the same article -- truly a perfect twatty storm.
At least Noel Dempsey got a tan while he was ruining his political credibility. Not so our Bertie, who was holed up in a cupboard, plugging the British tabloid for which he bangs out a few sports cliches each Sunday. And it was all in the timing. That very week, the true cost of the bank bailouts was emerging for the first time; former British PM Tony Blair had been in the Middle East, trying to broker peace, and former US President Bill Clinton was in Ireland, catching up on the peace deal he had fought so hard to create. But what was our illustrious, former leader doing? Trousering himself a few quid for a cheesy TV ad.
He spends more time on Twitter these days than on stage, so it seems odd that we still call Brian a musician. And while on Twitter, he spent most of 2010 whingeing -- how the Irish press don't like him, how he doesn't get to see his kids and, most recently, how painful root canal work at the dentist was. All this from a tubby bloke who's engaged to a woman, Delta Goodrem, infinitely better-looking and more successful than him. Last month, he tweeted about a dream he'd just had, back on stage with Westlife in front of adoring fans, a suggestion quickly laughed off by the boys he left behind.
Stop dreaming and be grateful for what you have Brian -- it's already a lot more than you deserve...
A few years ago, George Hook wore a black armband on RTE as a protest against the loss of Heineken Cup Rugby matches to pay-per-view TV, meaning that ordinary, decent Irish punters would no longer be able to follow their beloved team. This year, however, he put aside his qualms in return for a subscription to his own bank account, as he filled up our screens with the most unwatchable ad of the year to plug Sky TV.
Eulogising about the Sky experience, George's earnest, beseeching tone of voice seemed to say "trust me, I really believe this".
Of course you do, George...