I’ve always maintained – in a sort of half-joking manner—that the only reason that I’ve reached middle age without the accompaniment of a bloody great big politician- assisted stomach-ulcer is because I just bang away on the keyboard whenever the bastards are annoying me. It doesn’t even matter if no one is reading; at least I’m getting it out of my system.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance for a while; so I surely hope that gnawing feeling I’m having in my guts is just indigestion.
There have been a lot of irritations lately; but since this coming Saturday will hopefully see a huge number of us turning out for the latest protest against the water charges, it’s actually a (relatively) minor one that has been bugging me.
We heard last week that the Dáil bar’s absolute, cream-of-the-crop busiest night of 2014 was the period during which the Water Services Bill was supposedly being debated with some small measure of seriousness. On 16th December the heavily subsidised Chancers’ Bar pulled in €7,461.19. In fact that was only around €400 more than the second busiest night of the year, which was when they broke up for their extended Christmas holidays.
Think about that: they actually managed to guzzle their way through more beer and spirits when they were working than when they were knocking off!
In fact, by the time that the official recess was well and truly under way on the 19th of December (but they were still hanging around because –well, again, it is subsidised as is the food) takings had dropped by a cool €2,000.
So they actually drink more when they have important things to debate than when they are supposed to be relaxing and chilling out. I mean, I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that some of them can be legally pissed at work – as in the time that they bailed the bankers under cover of darkness—because they actually have a bar in that workplace.
And we are talking pissed and bladdered here with a select number, not just (just!) mildly intoxicated. Anyone remember Cork businessman and Fine Gael backbencher Tom Barry, who pulled a passing female colleague, Aine Collins, drunkenly down on his lap in full view of the cameras? Needless to say, the Neanderthal images went around the world, making us all so happy. At the time I wrote:
“I’ve mentioned before that our Beloved Leaders seem to have a tough time coming to terms with modern technology. Enda Kenny, for example, was badly caught out when a journalist used a tape recorder on him. To be honest, my heart almost went out to him. I could just imagine him pointing at it and saying: ‘Jaysus, that’s some queer looking yoke ye have there, all the same. A tape recorder, is it? Whatever will they think of next?’’
“And so we can only picture how stunned Mr. Barry was that within hours of his 3.00 a.m. grab DURING THE ABORTION DEBATE the footage of it had gone viral. Who would have thought that such a thing could happen in this day and age?
“How proud we all were that Ireland was once again shown as being represented by such a sober and serious bunch of people. Yeah, the drunken Irish were at it again. It’s a hell of a stereotype to be living up to but we seem to be doing a fairly good job of it. And everybody got to see it. Well…almost everybody. Enda Kenny didn’t:
“‘I have not seen the incident and therefore I am not going to comment on it.” [I told you that accessing youtube would confuse not only him but his advisors as well.]
“ ‘I didn’t see it and I have no comment. It is a very serious debate and obviously we have had more discussion about the Bill in question than any other Bill in probably the last 40 years.’
“Yes, Enda; but in the light of this I wonder how many discussions were above the level of the ones in my local? Because of course, despite an initial reluctance, Mr. Barry admitted that he had drink taken. And it was easy for him to have as much drink as he wanted because—just as it was when it stayed open late for the banks bailout—the Dail Bar was open last Thursday until five that morning. [Actually, it was six.]
“Still, it’s not as if he was legless. As he says himself he ‘wasn’t drinking excessively’. He doesn’t say what he means by ‘excessive’ but I have to wonder. I mean, my ‘excessive’ may not be his…and why the bloody hell are levels even being discussed in the first place? They were supposed to be working—and voting on Enda’s most serious Bill ‘in the last 40 years’.
“Nor was it confined to Fine Gael. Just as they don’t have a monopoly on cronyism, greed and corruption, so they don’t have one on drunkenness.
“United Left Alliance’s Joan Collins says that several of them were ‘a bit wobbly’. A bit freaking wobbly; as if this is acceptable behaviour by those that have been put into their privileged positions by voters who expect them not to be half-cut at such a time.”
I know that we are out there on this Saturday the 31st of January for the ostensible reason of demonstrating against the water charges. And I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that as many of us as can physically make it, do so. Somewhere along the way, however, this became about much, much more than water charges: it became about the all-encompassing power that these creatures now feel they have over us; it became about them closing off access to all of Kildare Street during the last march in order to intimidate us; it became about those who begged us to vote for them now – with the pension secure—openly telling us that we can piss off because they’ve already agreed to a sell-out and we’re just getting in the way.
And yes, it is about declaring that we don’t want votes cast by anyone who has even one drink on board, let alone half-a-dozen. It’s about letting them know –once and for all – that we are sick and bloody tired of having one rule for them and another for us.
For all our sakes – be there on Saturday!