This is a momentous day in our nation’s history. Or not. Who knows?
It’s certainly the day when we dispense with stuffy old traditions that have nothing to do with running a parliamentary democracy, such as the requirement for male members (ahem) to wear a suit and tie.
I don’t like suits. I especially don’t like ties. I’ve never understood why businessmen and public representatives feel obliged to wear an emblem commemorating 17th-century Croatian mercenaries.
Do you remember Pól Ó Foighil, who tried to take his place in our national parliament while wearing a traditional Irish báinín jacket?
No way, said the ushers. You’re not getting in.
Cén fáth? asked Pól, reasonably enough.
No collar on that jacket. You stay outside, buddy.
Thus we had the spectacle of an employed jobsworth refusing an elected representative entry to our national parliament solely on the grounds that his attire was unsuitable.
Can you believe that? I don’t care if my elected representative wears a Batman outfit as long as he does his job.
Now, I can’t see any usher stopping Ming the Merciless or Mick Wallace at the door of Leinster House. Perhaps we’ve moved on a bit from those days, and anyway I look forward to seeing what shade of pink Mick chooses for his tee-shirt.
With the influx of new TDs, I suppose we might be seeing a small revolution in social attitudes anyway, which is no bad thing. We were long overdue a sweep-out of the fogeys, even if the cabinet is looking a little geriatric. I suspect Ming won’t be the only member of the house with experience of exotic substances.
Indakinny, of course, wouldn’t fit into that category. He’s an old-fashioned, bog-ball-kicking country boy whose father played for Mayo. Inda is reported to be a mite pissed off that the Dáil convenes on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. He was looking forward to a big breakfast of hairy rashers, Clonakilty black pudding and sizzling bangers until the missus reminded him ’twas a Black Fast, Bejasus! The shtart of Lint.
A black fast? Holy shit (no, really) I didn’t hear the expression since I was about three weeks old, and that’s not today or yesterday, let me tell you. In Indaland, however, they’d take a thing like that very seriously, though not as seriously as Bert the Black-Faced who used to turn up in the Dáil on Ash Wednesday with half a bag of coal on his forehead in case anyone would fail to notice how Catholic he was, the devout bastard. Keeping his owners, the Sisters of Mercy, happy.
In Indaland, there won’t be a fish safe in the water for the next 42 days or however long Lent lasts. They’ll be pullin’ on Indamasks an’ divin’ into the sea with their Indaknives in their teeth, slashin’ the groupers and the bass to smithereens. Take that! An’ that! An’ that!
Inda is above in the Park as we speak, collecting his medal from Mary the Merciless. ‘Twill look grand on the mantelpiece beside my Commmunion medal and my Confirmation medal, and my County Senior medal, and that grand little one I got for being the Best Boy in the Whole Wide World. Ho ho.
Later on, he’ll announce his cabinet.
‘Tis my cabinet. ‘Tis a grand plywoood one with a lovely little curly bit at the top and a place where you can put all your letters and your biro.
In the cabinet, unlike the old splintered one in the skip outside Leinster House, which contained only dummies, there will be fourteen life-sized replicas of old politicians and a replica of a giant baby politician on a high-chair, all fully charged and ready to move at a moment’s notice. This cabinet will contain much baldness, a little beardiness and quite an amount of shrillness.
Carrying on another great tradition, this cabinet will contain no replicas of people with practical experience of anything except politics.
Plus ça change.
Eamon Gilmore — Tánaiste, Foreign Affairs & Trade.
Michael Noonan — Finance
Brendan Howlin — Public Expenditure & Reform.
Alan Shatter — Justice, Equality & Defence
Joan Burton — Social Protection
James Reilly — Health
Frances Fitzgerald — Children.
Ruairi Quinn — Education & Skills
Richard Bruton — Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation
Leo Varadkar — Transport, Tourism & Sport.
Phil Hogan — Environment, Community & Local Government
Jimmy Deenihan — Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs.
Pat Rabbitte — Communications, Energy & Natural Resources
Simon Coveney — Agriculture, Marine & Food
Willie Penrose gets the bib, spoon and high-chair at Environment with responsibility for housing and planning.
Paul Kehoe — Government Chief Whip