Down the rabbit-hole: A week in the life of Irish politics

Just in case you thought we were managing to scramble out of the rabbit-hole that this Government likes to keep us in, the last week or so would have set you straight.

On the one hand, we heard about how Taoiseach Enda Kenny has appointed a “local media liaison” to help boost his profile in his hometown of Castlebar. Lest you think this shouldn’t concern you, it’s worth noting that if you’re paying taxes in Ireland, then you’ll also be paying for this man’s salary – to the tune of €50,000.00.

enda kenny castlebar

We’re given to understand that the worst thing in Enda Kenny’s world would be coming in behind Michael Ring in the next election so it’s time to take pre-emptive action to spare his blushes. Which is all very fine if you’re the Taoiseach and can make an arbitrary decision to splash out that kind of money on a public relations stunt. It must be quite galling for people like Angela O’Connor though. In the last week we also heard about how her 9-year-old daughter Lucy is suffering from cancer but still saw her appeal for a medical card overturned by the HSE.

lucy o'connor

Then there’s the hospital trolley disaster. Over 500 people on trolleys in hospitals around the country. In the worst hit hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, there were 50 people on trolleys in the course of one day. But it was all okay, we were told on RTE news that evening, because by that stage the number had fallen to 17. Oh, well that’s alright then. The Government has every right to be proud about only 17 people having to spend the night on a trolley in a noisy A & E Department. Nothing topsy-turvy about that at all.

I have no doubt that if you pointed out the sheer brazenness of the Taoiseach hiring yet another media consultant in the wake of such crises in our health system, you’d be put very firmly in your place. Told, perhaps, that the health crisis is an ongoing problem. A hangover from the last government, or the one before that. And sure what good would €50,000.00 do anyway? It’s a mere drop in the ocean to the money that’s needed. Maybe that’s true – but then again how much treatment will that sum cover for a cancer patient? How many hospital beds would it buy? Maybe it’s time for the Government to take a hint from Tesco and start adopting the “Every Little Helps” model of public spending.

Meanwhile, back in Dublin, the latest political football in the banking sector turned out to be a golden one – the giant golden ball outside the Central Bank which is supposed to be moving with the Bank to its new headquarters on North Wall Quay. The Bank has shot down reports that any decision has been made, or that the cost of moving the “Crann an Oir” (Tree of Gold) would be in the region of €500,000.00 as the initial estimates had suggested. That sounds like a lot of money, but then who knows what the Department of Finance would sanction? The new headquarters are costing €140m; another half a million on top is just a drop in the ocean when you’re spending taxpayers’ money.

crann an oir

Here’s an idea, though. Why not leave the sculpture in place on Dame Street? Now that it’s literally become part of the street furniture, why does it have to go? A representative of the Bank has said that this may happen and there’s also talk of a new art work piece being commissioned for the new Bank. But why does the Bank even need a new art work piece? Banks and art have a strange history in recent times. We’ve become used to sale of corporate art collections and as much as I’m a fan of art, those stories stick in the throat somewhat when you know that the same banks are putting families under pressure over their family homes.

If the head honchos at the Central Bank are feeling like their creative juices are being squeezed dry, I’m sure someone could be prevailed upon to buy a Monopoly set and make a collaged map of Ireland using the green houses. On weeks when the Troika are telling us we’ve done a good job on that nasty debt, a red hotel can be added. It’ll be just as effective as the gold star method in kindergarten and – dare I say it – just as inexpensive.

monopoly

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and even someone of C.S. Lewis’ talent would be hard pushed to create a plot as contorted as the one Enda Kenny has woven. While he lives out his own little fantasy of never-ending success at the polls, he might think that all it takes is a media liaison worth his salt. Back in reality though, the great Irish public is more like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, keeping one eye on the clock; poised and ready to spring to the polling station as the first opportunity. That’s one day when we won’t be caught napping.

rabbit