So, after much political peacockery, thrust-out chests and indignation in the chamber over GSOC, do we actually know if GSOC was bugged or not? Do we in our shite. We might as well all have been playing the banjo in the chamber. Sad thing is that I look at the special advisors and media handlers and they all think this play-acting is all achieving something. Now onto another bunfight about Frank Flannery. Of course, we used to do the same to people “close to FF” when we were in opposition. All a load of nonsense.
Looking at some of the people being selected for the European Parliament, I can’t help thinking that Colm McCarthy’s observation is pretty much correct, that the Irish people think that there’s some Yoda fella in a back room making all the real decisions, and so we can elect clowns because it doesn’t really matter. I often suspect that if we had to directly elect people with real jobs, like air traffic controllers or brain surgeons, the voters would carefully scrutinise their CVs to see did they run Heathrow Control for ten years, or act as head of surgery in Cedar-Sinai or the Mayo Clinic? Yet ask Irish people to elect someone to run a €150 billion euro economy, and we ask was he any good at the hurling?
My best pal in this place is Tom Lavelle, who is FF TD for Mayo North West, or as he says, seven cows, three sheep, 4000 gas workers, 3000 Guards, and 500 Dutch and German ecowarriors.
Tom and I both came in 1981, although he did better than me, spending a few years as minister of state for something involving paperwork, and three months in the cabinet as minister for defence in the chaos of 81/82. Tom always reckons Haughey named him to the cabinet by accident because he got his name wrong, as Tom had not been what was called a Haughey man. Funnily enough, he always maintains that he and Haughey got on well personally, which didn’t surprise me. Unlike me, Tom went to university, studied abroad a bit, and takes an interest in global politics, and Haughey always enjoyed a discussion about The Big Picture. “Ask any of these fuckers about The Big Picture,” he told Tom once, pointing at his cabinet ministers, “and they’d wonder were you talking about screen one in the Savoy.”
Once a week, we get away from the bubble and nip out for lunch. I was asking him how things were going in the DeValera Party. He rolls his eyes. “Micheal, God love him, is doing his best. But some of them think now that 2011 was just a statistical hiccup, and we’ll be back in 2016. There’s a gang of young bucks who’ve started saying that the Irish people owe us an apology. An apology!There’s murmurings about the need for a new leader. The name doing the rounds is Niall Collins.”
“Niall Collins?” I ask, holding me club sandwich in mid-bite. “Sure, when did he start lighting up the place?”
Tom shrugs his shoulders.
“I haven’t a notion. They keep using the word “shrewd” to describe him. I’ve no idea what they’re talking about. Someone saw him reading a book, and they got all excited. You know what they’re like. Do you know that half the last parliamentary party never said a word to Martin Mansergh? Half of them thought he spoke a different language, and the other half were afraid they’d catch it. There’s one of them who blushes every time Averil Power speaks to him and runs out of the room.”
Masterful stroke by Big Phil on the Dublin Mayor thing. He knows councillors don’t want it, but wants to be seen as a man doing things, so he actually transferred the power to stop a referendum on it to the councillors, who will now claim that they’re in favour of reform, just not this reform. Hey presto, the referendum gets blocked, Phil says it was not his choice, nobody gets blamed, and all parties get to say they’re in favour of an elected Dublin Mayor. If Machiavelli were alive today he’d be taking notes and asking people how to spell “Kilkenny”.
Arthur Henchy TD was elected first for Kildare East in 1981. Some of the statistics he studies don’t have horses names beside them.
The local elections continue to cause mayhem in the constituency, which always makes me laugh when one considers the relative powerlessness of county councillors. They have the power to call for, urge, and yearn for things. All very Danielle Steele. Of course, let’s be honest: for the parties, the local elections are basically a taxpayer funded run out for the general election, and a chance to separate the doers, the talkers, the poseurs, and the actually insane.
In the Feckerstown ward convention last night, Cllr. William Jennings Hanrahan, a henchman for my constituency colleague, arch-enemy, all-round devious bastard and throbbing verucca on my political big toe, Senator Maurice The Gimp Mahaffy, was waxing lyrical about his devotion to the party. For 48 eight long laws-of-physics breaking minutes he went on about his devotion to Fine Gael, and how as a young man he’d fallen to his knees to remove chewing gum from Liam Cosgrave’s shoe during the 1976 Ballyfermot by-election, and how his wish, when The Lord Our God called him, that perhaps someone would sprinkle a handful of soil from Beal na Blath over his casket, so that he may rest if only slightly close to greatness.
When the ballots were counted, he missed the last place by 5 votes. He was out of his seat, big red pudding face on him, accusing all and sundry of conspiracies and agendas, jabbing a finger at the young woman who had won the nomination of “dangling her female wiles”, before announcing that the party could f**k itself, and storming out. He could be heard on the corridor screaming at a young crony for Lucinda Creighton’s mobile number.
Watching the various “campaigns” for the European Parliament, I pretty much reckon that most Irish candidates could happily be running for a seat in Hell: “Fianna Fail candidate Cian Browley has pledged that he intends to secure as much funding as possible from Hell and the various Satanic Development Programmes. “I’m confident that there is funding available for local projects including new changing rooms for St. Jude’s. Will we have to pledge allegiance to Satan and all his evil works? Ah, here, I’ve no interest in all that high falutin’ nonsense. All I know is that the young lads of St. Jude’s won’t be getting poison ivy from the bushes around their Careful Nows, and that’s all I’m interested in. Does it bother me that Hitler and Jimmy Saville are in the same parliamentary group as me? Sure, that’s a typical Irish Times question, that is. Typical. I can tell ye this: Hitler voted for the new interpretative centre in Feckerstown which will have all the tourists in the town, and that’s the main thing. No, I don’t remember if I voted for his motion supporting the extermination of Untermenschen. Mind your own feckin’ business!”
Hanrahan announced that due to the radical feminists and homosexuals who have seized control of the party of Michael Collins and Liam “Keep ’em rollin’ in the aisles” Cosgrave, he has launched his campaign to put himself before the people as an Independent Cumman ns nGaedheal/League of Youth candidate. He announced this, from the basket of a hot air balloon he had borrowed from his brother in law, under a giant rubber balloon (he’s not short a few quid, Hanrahan) in the shape of his face. Although he hadn’t planned on becoming airborne, a gust of wind caught the balloon, lifting it up with the Cllr and his crony in the basket, leading to an string of expletives through the megaphone as the basket was repeatedly lifted and bounced off the main street as the wind dragged it along. The balloon proceeded to break free, and as it slowly deflated it continued down the street, the cllr’s giant facsimile twisting and buckling. Children, animals and senior citizens were sent screaming. A young child holding a puppy with a sore leg was snatched out of harm’s way by Lucinda Creighton who had turned up to watch the proceedings, and I’m pretty sure when she started running towards the child I could hear that de-de-de noise the Six Million Dollar Man used to make.
Anyway, the marauding orb was only stopped when a passing Garda Armed Response Unit skidded to a halt and deflated it with 48 rounds from a Heckler and Koch submachine gun. That’ll be a fun day in GSOC.
Arthur Henchy TD has represented Kildare East since 1981. He has occasionally turned up at Oireachtas committees having actually read the legislation. He also borrowed the odd book off Garrett, and read it too.
With the locals hurtling towards us, the tension between the candidates is becoming palpable. Two candidates in the constituency got into a punch up recently, accusing each other of plagiarism. One was running as “A Fresh New Voice for the Local Area”, and got his nose out of joint with the other fella who was running as “The Local Area’s New Fresh Voice.” Apparently the fracas was only broken up when a member of the public, watching the spectacle, asked them a question about how they’d specifically cut the Local Property Tax. The two of them immediately hared it down the street, one of them shouting to her that “that’s a very interesting question” just as he turned the corner and ran away.
Sitting in the parliamentary party meeting last week I wondered was I the only person alarmed at the fact the Leo Varadkar’s ringtone is the theme from “Dexter”?
GSOC shenanigans continue, and as usual, nobody wants to admit what we’re all thinking. We’re all afraid of the Guards, and don’t want to poke at this too closely. What’s the big message coming from this affair? Don’t be a Garda whistleblower, because there’s a a fair to middlin’ chance you’ll end up being painted as the baddie of the piece. The reality is that the culture within the force needs to be shook up, and the only way to do that, as it is with everything in Ireland, is to bring in someone from outside the country, that is, someone who isn’t someone’s cousin or brother in law. In short, we need a Finnish or Canadian Commissioner. But that takes guts. Does J Edgar Shatter have the stones? We’ll see.
Watching the European Elections candidates emerging. God forbid a European issue should rear its ugly head. I bumped into a candidate recently, and asked him about Ukraine. He looked at me painfully for a second, then relaxed. “Oh, I know this one. That’s a country, isn’t it? Is that the one at war with Kiev?”.
As usual, the Most Sophisticated Electorate In The World approaches the issue as to who we send to Brussels with their usual Wizard of Oz mindset, that is, it doesn’t really matter who we send as some clever bucko is behind a curtain somewhere making all the real decisions anyway. And so, we’ll send our usual Liquorice Allsorts selection: one or two who actually know something about the EU, one or two who are basically Super TDs and are going out to speak on behalf of either fish or cattle, one certified nut case, one who will run on issues that have nothing to do with the EU at all, one who will promise to send for all his constituents once he’s settled in, and at least one who we’re giving a job to out of pure sympathy. Grand little country.
Arthur Henchy TD was first elected for Kildare East in 1981. A solid Garret man, he’s been known to read the odd draft bill before voting on it.
Not sure about this GSOC thing at all. As usual, of course, the kernel of the issue, the possibility that the state’s premier security agency has been spying on its own watchdog has been lost in the usual Irish hoohah of pointing fingers. As for the attitude of J. Edgar Shatter, you have to wonder is it really that wise that both the Gardaí and Army intelligence report into the same fella? I’m not sure it is. Even the Brits keep MI5, MI6 and Scotland Yard all separate. Why is it that every justice minister seems to become the Garda Commissioner’s man in cabinet?
The Gimp reaches a new low this week, marching in a demo in the parish against cutbacks. He actually starts bawling his eyes out on the stage as he talks about the suffering of those at the frontline. He then hotfoots it up to the Seanad to vote in favour of the cuts, then back down to the constituency to attend another march. He once (very publicly) offered a dying man his kidney, having first sought a medical opinion on the sly as to how quickly the man would die first.
If he was any more of a sociopath he’d be on an episode of “Criminal Minds”.
Was watching Boyd Barrett from the People’s Front of Killiney giving out yards about inequality in the chamber. Apparently we can pay for everything by magic oil and gas which will be brought ashore not by evil oil company drills (and certainly not in Dublin Bay. The horror!) but environmentally conscious fairies carrying it in gossamer (reusable, of course) thimbles. Only in Ireland do we get angry when we discover oil. Of course, if the Brits figure out a way of tunnelling from Wales and sucking oil or gas up to a facility there we’ll go ballistic.
Young Patrick has put me on this Twitter thing. Don’t really understand it as it seems like a form of airborne graffiti, but must move with the times. Not surprisingly, there did not seem to be a huge market for my musings on the affairs of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the future of the basket weaving industry. Then young Murphy from Dublin South East sidles up to me in the restaurant and nudges me, congratulating me on “embracing” the technology, and points out that my “followers” (sounds like a cult.) are shooting up. I have no idea what he’s talking about, so he shows me on his phone. Young Patrick has been posting pictures of me at meetings, speaking at committee, things in the constituency. Nothing special about that, save that nearly every one has Irka in the background, draped like she’s launching the new Porsche.
Interesting remarks from Red Joan about making pensions compulsory. She’s right, of course, if being dangerously courageous. People say they can’t afford it, yet expect other people to afford the taxes to fund their pension when they reach retirement. Maybe we should mix the National Lottery and PRSI, as people don’t get seem to mind doing the lotto. Could throw in different pensions as prizes, maybe even the odd hip replacement, though I suspect An Post will give out blue murder about shipping titanium joints around the place. Of course, there are many that say the pensions in here are like Lottery prizes. They’re right. We have a ludicrous scenario where individual taxpayers who can’t afford private pensions are paying taxes to ensure that higher paid ministers and Oireachtas members get free and lucrative pensions. It’s actually obscene. I mentioned it once at a parliamentary party meeting and it was like declaring yourself a character witness for Jimmy Saville. So I wrote to the Department of Finance and told them that I’d only be taking a half pension, which is more than enough when I leave this place. Within a day some official (with a face like a downtrodden Easter Island statue) was around demanding that I withdraw the offer, or there would be “consequences”. “Like what? Take my pension off me?” I asked. He scowled, looking desperately through his notes for an answer. Apparently no one ever asks Finance what “consequences” means. He scuttled off, and I’ve heard nothing since. They’ll probably firebomb the house.
The Gimp has taken to carrying a jar around the place filled with a discoloured liquid and a plastic model of a foetus in it. He keeps leaving it down, and now Irka and Young Patrick have a competition as to who can sneak things into the jar like pickled eggs and the like. Of course, it all kicked off when one of them replaced the model with a plastic dinosaur, which started bobbing around the jar and upset the anti-evolutionists, who thought it was a slight. The Gimp ends up announcing to the Seanad that not only was he opposed to Darwin, but he didn’t even enjoy “Jurassic Park”.
Arthur Henchy TD was first elected for Kildare East in 1981. He can equally enjoy a day at the races or a nice mug of tea, a chocolate digestive, and The Economist. He regards himself as a Garret man.
So, we’re sending young Hayes to Brussels. Can’t see the logic of it myself, to be honest. Both him and The Iron Lucinda were two of the better performers as ministers, and it’s not like the government is awash with talent. He’s a true believer, young Hayes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up taking a liking to the European Parliament. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up doing a Cox and leading the EPP if he stays. He’s got the talent for it. The by-election will be fun, especially if my old pal Charlie Tallaght O’Connor runs in Tallaght for the Tallaght Party on a Save Tallaght ticket. Still, you have to wonder about Mayo Man: first Lucinda, now Hayes, it makes you wonder does he regard stubbornness as the defining trait of his administration? Sure, it has its strengths: he delivered on abortion and the Seanad referendum promise, but listening isn’t a sign of weakness. Look at Martin: he had a free vote and the voters didn’t give a toss.
If there’s one more service I can do for my country before the Good Lord calls me home , it’ll be to keep that bastard Mahaffy out of Dail Eireann. I barely scraped into the last seat, beating him by 178 votes on the 14th count, and he immediately challenged it, of course. Tried to get a batch of my votes eliminated on the grounds that “the writing looked foreign.” A week from polling, he was going around with Miss Hallorhan and the other simpletons from the John Charles McQuaid Sub Committee for the Saving of Souls, telling people I was in favour of compulsory abortion. Have to say, in his case, I would have been.
Young Maurice is a bit of a whiz with the computers. He’s got the office humming along, tallies, queries, everything and all in the computer. He’s a bright kid, and his mother has always been good to me and Connie. Of course, I suspect he stays to be around the ever fragrant Irka, the White Rose of Warsaw. Had to laugh when she arrived at the count center, in a skirt that could have passed as a thick belt. Mahaffy’s lot nearly dropped their rosaries. But between the two of them I couldn’t ask for a better office team.
In the clinic this morning, the widow Tyrell from Fisherstown, the one with the funny eye, not with the leg, called in to see me with a problem with her rabbit. Apparently the poor thing wasn’t the best, or at least that was the jist of what I got until she pulled an enormous plastic device from a Dunnes bag, and complained that she couldn’t get it to work. Maurice and I nearly fell off the seat, and were unsure what to do, when Irka walked in with the tea and Kimberleys, saw it, and got into a conversation with the widow. She had the thing working in two minutes, and the widow left thrilled. “ Did ye see the size of that thing?” Maurice asked, when she’d gone. “Bet it just eats batteries. Or do you think it plugs into the mains?”
I kept my mouth shut. If it helps the widow get through the lonely winter nights, mores the better. God be the days when politicians were just expected to stimulate the economy.
Arthur Henchy TD was first elected for Kildare East in 1981. He’s been known to enjoy the odd book, and regards himself as a Garret man. His diary is published here every week.