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They’re back! The Dáil and Seanad resume for 2008. January 31, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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By 14.29 yesterday afternoon the benches of the Dáil and Seanad were almost entirely empty. Two minutes later during the opening prayer there was a scattering of TDs in the Dáil chamber. And what’s this? No Taoiseach for priority questions… merely a typically bedraggled Brian Cowen giving an answer of breathtaking tedium on the state of the Irish economy to Richard Bruton… medium term prospect favourable… long term reasonably strong… pro-business outward looking society… finances sound…tax rates low… risks… sentiment deteriorated… relative strength… policies in place… improve competitive position… deterioration in global environment… oh oh… perhaps he’s not the best man to take the helm in … what is it again, 2012?

The smartest economic mind in the Dáil managed to all but equal Cowen in his response and supplementary… government generated price increases… undermine competitiveness… excessive growth of quangos… excessive bureacracy… competitive… tougher environment…

But this is like two people shouting past each other as the response came that..no doubt… level of resources available must be used efficiently…role of government… competitiveness… inflation… price stability… budgetary stance… sentiment deteriorated… halving indebtedness…

Simon Hoggart, the UK parliamentary sketch writer in the Guardian, has an occasionally entertaining trick where he transposes what is said by various political worthies to indicate the essential meaninglessness of the content. Yep, that’d work here.

Still, interesting that Cowen mentioned renewables, Minister Ryan and other ‘green’ tinged issues entirely favourably as a means of answering a question as to what practical steps were being taken by the government to stave off future problems… How useful such coverage must now seem, or is it an indication that they extracted their pound of flesh over the Tribunal counter motion and are now willing to offer the odd kind word? Time will tell…

By 14.45 with Joan Burton on her feet accusing the Minister of not accepting any responsibility for the downturn and the effects on the most marginalised and the Chamber was once more almost empty as the response rolled through in not quite sonorous sentences… budgetary stance… subprime market… 1 and a half percent of GDP… right thing to do… extra 1.7 going into the economy… social welfare recipients… right thing to do…

Meanwhile in the Senate a rather more energetic debate was taking place about the Order of Business. Everyone wanted Ministers to come in… a good idea. Apparently they are. Most interesting was the fact that one of theTaoiseach’s Senators was calling on two Ministers to address the House on various issues. And didn’t sound entirely happy about possible answers. Hunting with the hare and the hound?

Meanwhile there were complaints about the ending of the medium wave RTÉ service from an FF Senator at a time when the Celtic Tiger is alive and well’. This drew a… derisory.. response which in turn allowed the good Senator to restate the phrase two or three times. “Alive and well…Alive and Well! Alive and Well!!!” Cue further laughter. Ah, respect, where is it? Still, David Norris was in agreement on the issue of RTÉ.

Ronan Mullen praised the Labour party (saying ‘he didn’t do that very often’) over their stand on the sex industry and lap dancing clubs and likened the commericalisation of bodies to that of sales of organs. Not quite the comparison I’d have made.

And so, the leader of the house stood and noted the ‘very sad passing of a great friend… the late Joe Dolan … at one time the greatest Irish artist of his time’. It was also a time of congratulation… ‘for Eoghan Harris on his marriage…and Ivana Bacik on the birth of her baby’…

Meanwhile, back in the Dáil Richard Bruton was arguing that ‘asked a hard question… he [Cowen] just reads blather out that file…’

Later on during Leaders’ Questions we were treated to yet further facts and stats on the economy from Bertie Ahern – who graced the Chamber with his presence – and Enda Kenny [Incidentally... Kenny too was going on about unelected quango's... I have to say it's all sounding unpleasantly like the UK circa 1981, isn't it?]. It was odd to see Ahern again after some six weeks away from the Dáil chamber. It’s just not the same on brief TV or radio interviews. But not that odd, not when one is treated to…house reduced session..er..recession… issues being discussed day in day out… further oil increases though they’ve gone up or down in the past month… risk of a potentially steeper decline in new housing outputs…of course the housing market is lower, continually asking questions over overheating a couple of years ago…which by and large the capital programme in one form or another…thriving…it’s as the Tanaiste said on Budget day a more difficult year to manage but I would say not withstanding that the projected growth is 3%…strong year for growth… strong year for employment… strong outcomes… don’t have to remind Deputy Kenny…. close management…close watching of the international situation…manage these issues…

To which the response was that …no-one denies the fundamentals of the economy are sound… ah well now Enda, tell that to the guys on your side in the Senate.

Eamon Gilmore suggested that This house needs to move on from the troubles of the Taoiseach…

Yes, yes it does…

But by way of response so we were treated to another thicket of verbiage…issues ongoing… no question that I or my tax advisors haven’t dealt with… answered every single question the Revenue asked…everything is as it should be…

Gilmore noted that the answer contained a quadruple negative… but he was smiling and so was Joan Burton beside him afterwards… so that’s okay then…

He also noted that a newspaper had the headline “Bertie lied about tax”… and argued: that I can’t recall seeing a newspaper about a political leader in this state that was so blunt…has the Taoiseach taken any action arising from that headline?

Our hero smiled shyly and answered…Is that from the Mail…I’d need the whole law library to take the actions against the Mail… I just ignore them…

And that… more or less was that… whether last nights news about passports is any more than yet another damp squib remains to be seen. The Irish Independent is suggesting it’s Berties ‘GUBU day’, but so far it isn’t, really it isn’t… However, as to the longer term fallout, who knows?

One thing is for certain, though. It’s truly as if they never went away…

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Comments»

1. ejh - January 31, 2008

Two minutes later during the opening prayer

You what?

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2. Bartholomew - January 31, 2008

‘Opening prayer’
Well, the first sentence of the Constitution says that power comes from God, so presumably they’re recharging their collective batteries after the recess.

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3. ejh - January 31, 2008

Is that why he’s called Electric Enda?

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4. CL - January 31, 2008

Bertie hasn’t a prayer. .. What cleric said the prayer? Do they have different sects? Has a Muslim done it yet? Does it matter?

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5. WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2008

Well. Interesting. There is a prayer said by the Ceann Comhairle, the Chair or Speaker of the Dáil. Nah, they don’t get clerics to do it.

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6. CL - January 31, 2008

I was wondering because in the U.S. they have a cleric do it. I’ll have to check to see if they’ve had a Muslim (and whether he was Sunni or Shi’ite)

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