What a year it has been in Irish politics! Bye Bye Bertie, Hello Brian; two fingers to Lisbon and to hell with the begrudgers; and the long swim down the swanee for the Irish economy.
So to mark the end of 2008, let's pay homage to the good, the bad and the downright unfortunate of the Year in Politics.
LEADER OF THE YEAR: Eamon Gilmore.
Not much competition for this title. Enda Kenny, on a good day, can be excellent but he lay too low during the early phase of the banking crisis to be a real contender for this role. Gilmore has shown solid consistency throughout the year.
MINISTER OF THE YEAR: Eamon O Cuiv.
Why? I hear you ask. Considering that none of the Ministers did anything to deserve this award this year, the fact that O Cuiv took on a bunch of protesting students shows that there is more to the mild-mannered, bi-spectacled politician than we thought there was. Be afraid, be very afraid!
MOUTHPIECE OF THE YEAR: Leo Varadkar
If a member of the Government breaks wind, Varad the Impaler is there to give his tuppence worth. There are plenty of other fine Fine Gael TDs so why is it that Varadkar is always wheeled out as the attack dog?
QUOTE OF THE YEAR:
“You are neither able nor qualified to evaluate that evidence.” – Taoiseach Brian Cowen to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in May 2008.
POLITICAL HERO OF THE YEAR: Joe Behan.
All hail Deputy Behan for putting principles before politics and voting with his heart following the budget cutbacks. It wasn’t just the attempt to swipe the medical card from all over 70s that prompted Joe to leave the Fianna Fail party but other cutbacks in areas such as education. Joe is now an Independent TD and can be guaranteed a future in politics as a result of his actions.
REBEL OF THE YEAR: Finian McGrath
The multi-talented Independent TD long had a special relationship with the Government in terms of getting things done in his local constituency. But when he withdrew his support from the Government following the harsh October budget, the Government withdrew his membership of a Dail committee. But McGrath has soldiered on forming what some political wags term his very own ‘Finian’s Rainbow Coalition’.
ACCIDENTAL HERO OF THE YEAR: Dick Roche.
Poor Dick – all he was doing was taking an early morning dip when he found himself with a gun in his back and used as a human shield by a bunch of raiders. But in true political style, he milked his trauma to ensure that he had the headlines in the papers at a time when Irish banks were close to collapse. In fact, the bold Dick even managed to hit the headlines in news organisations as varied as the Houston Chronicle, CNN International and BBC News.
DAIL CHARACTER OF THE YEAR: Michael Ring.
When the Mayo motormouth stands up to speak, everyone listens because they know they are in for an entertaining few minutes. No TD ever gets as worked up, as passionate and as entertaining as the Ring Master from Mayo. And when he utters the immortal words: “I’m tellin’ ya now, Minister” – you know you are on Quality Street.
POOR UNFORTUNATE OF THE YEAR: Brian Lenihan.
As Minister for Justice, he kept his head down and was considered a quiet success there. But from the frying pan he was tossed into the fire by new Taoiseach Brian Cowen and has been burning like a bonfire ever since. He must be asking himself what he ever did to deserve the poison chalice of Finance. I bet Health is looking like an attractive portfolio to him now.
BRUISER OF THE YEAR: Brian Cowen.
There is only one heavy-weight in the Dail and there is no one who can take him on and escape without a battering and that is Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Love him or loath him, you can only admire his dogged determination, his ‘my way or the highway’ attitude and his withering one-liners aimed at the opposition. And a note to the critics – he is NOT Bertie and he never will be Bertie.
DAIL CAMPAIGNER OF THE YEAR: Caoimhghin O Caolain
Sinn Fein’s Dail leader isn’t given a lot of time to speak in the House but when he does, the one thing that is closest to his heart is Monaghan Hospital. That has been his cause for years and he has reason to fight for its survival – it fought for his survival when he had a bit of heart trouble himself a few years back.
DAIL WORKERS OF THE YEAR: The ushers in Leinster House and the staff of the Dail bar. Now they are two groups of people who actually earn a proper living in Leinster House and they deserve every cent!
“Ah, come on, what’s Star backwards?”
8 years ago