The Diary of Arthur Henchy TD Part 7.

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.

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