This piece appears in Chicago’s Irish American News for July, 2016


Ah, two weeks of straight sunshine!

You know, with all of my moaning and griping I sometimes forget what a great place Ireland is.  In fact, if it were only possible to transport all of the venal, money-hungry, principle-free vultures and hyenas of every political hue to an oxygen-free rock on the fringes of cold Lovecraftian outer darkness, then we would have a truly wonderful little country indeed.

Well, it would be a start, anyway.  Because after the seemingly endless winter that we’ve just passed through, it’s nice to be reminded of how damned GREEN the countryside is – and how wonderful to have the sun putting a great big cheese-eating grin on the most unlikely of faces.

So, even though I feel duty-bound to reluctantly mention that most useless of institutions; that home for dilapidated, failed trough-snufflers; that place where mainly useless political appointees may normally apply – yes, it’s the Seanad, the clip-joint where the ordinary punter has no say on who goes in –, it is really quite pleasant and in keeping with the weather to tell you that at least ONE of them has shown a bit of character.  Yes, pass the smelling salts and get out the calendar that marks off once-in-a-blue-moon events, because Taoiseach Enda Kenny has accidentally let through someone for whom it’s NOT all about the money.

Indeed, this shows that it IS possible to be a member of one of the most pointless and undemocratic Bastions of B.S in Ireland and still retain some integrity; because the nomination of a senator from the charity sector has given us Joan Freeman. She is the founder and former CEO of Pieta House, which does powerful work on behalf of suicide prevention.  And I’d like to say how pleasant it is to welcome a rare human being as a senator.

As someone who lives just outside of Galway — which has become a frightening suicide hot spot in recent years — I think that the work that Pieta House puts in is of inestimable value.  And in a city that saw 121 evictions being processed in court a few weeks ago, its work is going to be more important than ever.  And of course I am not ignoring Ireland’s other counties and their problems; it’s just that this happens to be the one in which I live.

Senator Freeman has taken the unusual step of donating the entirety of her €65,000 salary to her old charity after being chosen as Taoiseach’s nominee after she was picked by FF leader Micheál Martin.  She said:

“I was appointed a senator because of Pieta House so it’s only right that Pieta House and the community benefit as a result of this.  I’m only reflecting what the people of Ireland have done over the last 10 years by giving so much.”

A caring politician like Joan Freeman doesn’t come around too often; so let’s be happy for once when it does occur.

I can only imagine that quite a few of her comrades are muttering ‘well done, you’ through Joker-style grins and pained, gritted teeth.

Not that they’ll be embarrassed or anything like that.  Our politicians don’t do embarrassment — especially not our many failed ones.  They know, you see, that even if it is the will of the people that they be booted unceremoniously out of their comfy Dail seats there’s always a good chance that Enda Kenny will give them a Seanad one instead, just to piss off the electorate.  And cronyism being what it is, of course.

Embarrassment?  Fully HALF A DOZEN of the eleven nominated by Kenny who lost their Dail seats but accepted a Seanad one WERE PREVIUOSLY AGAINST THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THE SEANAD.

Sorry for shouting but this does my bloody head in.  Their integrity is so damned non-existent that even though they KNOW that they are not wanted they will still accept a ‘job’ – and I use the term very loosely – in a gaff that they don’t even believe should exist!  Jesus wept.

OK, OK – sunshine!  Get thee behind me, Negativity! I know there are a few decent politicians in there and even your own adopted Billy Lawless has been given a pretty warm welcome.


Out went Joe O’Reilly on the will of the people of Cavan-Monaghan and into the Seanad he went ANYWAY.  Voted out of the Dail?  So what?  As he entered the Seanad he called it ‘a most felicitous day’.

Who talks like that?  Well, these guys do when they realise that they are not being removed from the Golden Trough after all.  Thanks heavens for the Old Boys’ network.

Or the Curious Case of…

Ex-Minister for Health James Reilly.  He was told by the people that his services were no longer required and out he goes.  But not a problem. He is now ‘honoured’ (his word) to be sitting his backside down in a building that he previously described as ‘very undemocratic’, a place that has ‘very little power’ and about which he even moaned that ‘90% of Senators are elected by existing politicians.’

Ah, but that was back when he had a job.  These quibbles went ass over teakettle when the Political Primary Directive kicked in:  AT ALL COSTS KEEP THE SNOUT IN THE TROUGH.

Then, in a twist that one would need a heart of stone not to crack up at, it appears that he heard about his sacking as FG Deputy Leader from his wife.  And she heard it from the radio.

When Senator Reilly got on the blower to find out what was happening Enda didn’t return his calls.  Hell, man, you would have thought that he could at least have put him on hold.

For old time’s sake.

With some background muzac.

But no; nothing.  Still, it had me laughing – LOUDLY.  And I know what you’re thinking.  Why didn’t he tell him where to shove his Senator’s job; but can I refer you back to the Prime Directive of the above paragraph?  You know:  snouts, pig-troughs and the conjunction of one with the other?

The speculation is that it’s payback for Reilly calling for a referendum on abortion – and we know how Kenny feels about that.  He needs more time to think, says he; only having had the previous five years.  Fierce flustered he gets altogether whenever the ‘A’ word is mentioned.  Remember his lies of last week when he said that the public had voted three times to keep the 8th Amendment?  It turns out they weren’t lies at all.  According to Leo Varadkar, doing some heroic sucking-up and making more statements on Health than when he was the actual Minister:

“The factual position is there were actually four referendums, not three subsequent to 1983. What he said was incorrect and I understand subsequently he has actually clarified that, or at least he says he has.  So I think it’s a case of the Taoiseach misspeaking on that.” 

That would be misspeaking like when he misspoke about meeting a man with two pints in each hand; or wistfully recalling the number of people who hang out of their car windows to congratulate him on the great job he’s doing; or the many who phone him to make sure that he hasn’t made a mistake (upwards!) with their wages; or when he sat on a bench with the homeless man who never was.  You say tomato and I say tomAto; you say misspoke and I say blatant lies.  Let’s call the whole thing off.

Hey – who switched off the sunshine?