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Bertie is a Rare Orchid


Having some time on my hands and overcome with curiosity, I dropped by the Oireachtas website to peruse this mornings Leaders Questions. Well was I rewarded. Its unlikley that TV will show the scenes from which the following transcript is taken. I extract some of it here but really you must read the whole thing here.

I find that without pictures, the transcripts take on a rare, often chaotic format and when reading them the whole scene as it presents to the minds eye descends into farce. If they keep up the quality of this they may yet get RTE2 to commission a sit-com, it will be better than some of the shite they air.

Joe Higgins is asking a question on social housing provision, take it away Joe:

Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should ask a question.

Mr. J. Higgins: Does the Taoiseach accept that, in reality, social partnership is now another flag of convenience to curb workers’ wage demands? In the context of the partnership talks, while private capitalists are allowed by the Government’s policies to gorge themselves obscenely with speculative profits and tax breaks as crucial public services such as health and education go short, does the Taoiseach believe that the 18 so-called investors, who set up a speculator’s company in the Caribbean to scam €309,000 per year legally from the tax fund in this State deserve to be called partners, or would the term “parasites” come more readily to mind? The Taoiseach has facilitated them. I read in yesterday’s Irish Examiner that after——

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not appropriate to quote and I ask the Deputy to confine himself to questions.

Mr. J. Higgins: I am asking a question. While I will not quote, I read in the Irish Examiner that after the Taoiseach’s recent visit to Singapore, they named a——

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not even appropriate for the Deputy to state what he read in the Irish Examiner. He should simply ask a question.

Mr. J. Higgins: Very well.

Ms McManus: This is ridiculous.

An Ceann Comhairle: The purpose of Question Time is to elicit information from the Taoiseach, not to impart information to the House.

Mr. M. Higgins: In Singapore, this would be a criminal speech.

Ms McManus: This is simply censorship.

Mr. J. Higgins: Yes. However, they named a new hybrid orchid in the Taoiseach’s honour. They called it “Mokara Bertie Ahern”.

Mr. Rabbitte: How can the Ceann Comhairle rule this out?

Mr. J. Higgins: It must have been sponsored by developers and speculators, as the Taoiseach has certainly been a true cara to them.

Ms McManus: A delicate flower.

Very good, we like flowers, it gets better, Joe finally decides to ask a question of the Taoiseach after two more attempts, relating to PAYE conditions and housing. Bertie asserts: "there is almost over-capacity in the affordable housing market, where people are not switching or——"

And here we go....

The Taoiseach: Through affordable housing, social housing and the voluntary housing sector, the issues discussed in social partnership have improved the situation.

Ms McManus: It certainly helped the landlords.

The Taoiseach: I have provided comprehensive figures in this respect.

Mr. Stagg: We got two in County Kildare from the entire package. Despite all of the building in County Kildare, we only got two.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Stagg should allow the Taoiseach to speak.

The Taoiseach: Half of Dublin is moving to County Kildare because the houses are——

Mr. Stagg: They are not moving into social housing or affordable housing.

The Taoiseach: They are moving into affordable housing.

Mr. Stagg: Not at all. We only got two. I received a report yesterday.

The Taoiseach: The county has extremely good affordable housing.

Ms Lynch: It should be good as it took five years to build.

Ms McManus: Let them eat cake.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach, without interruption, please.

The Taoiseach: There is some extremely good affordable housing in Kildare, which is much cheaper than most places, to that county’s credit.

Mr. Rabbitte: The Indian visit was not good for the Taoiseach. He is out of touch with what is going on.

An Ceann Comhairle: I ask Deputy Rabbitte to allow the Taoiseach to answer Deputy Joe Higgins’s question.

Mr. C. Lenihan: The Opposition wants to ruin the economy.

The Taoiseach: The Deputies do not want to accept we are building 80,000 houses and that through Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the affordable housing initiative, more than 11,000 sites have been generated.

Mr. Stagg: That is because investors are vying for tax breaks.

The Taoiseach: They do not want to say this is having a significant impact and they do not want to give credit to the affordable housing initiative, which is very unreasonable. They want to take issue with the ESRI and they do not want to recognise that this year’s budget was the most progressive in the history of the State.

However, I agree with Deputy Joe Higgins on one point, which is that the high rate of salary paid to ordinary workers is a competitiveness issue. I hope he is not against that and that he does not want to return to the old days of——

Mr. J. Higgins: The fumes from that orchid must have gone to the Taoiseach’s head because he is delirious, as he said yesterday about the Opposition. He is wandering in a——

Mr. C. Lenihan: The Deputy is a rare orchid.

Mr. Kenny: I heard a report about a flower called after the Taoiseach. Shelley wrote: “Full many a flower that is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air”.

Mr. J. Higgins: Gray wrote that, not Shelley.

Mr. C. Lenihan: Be careful of the cankerous rose.

Mr. Kenny: I am not sure in a political sense if the Taoiseach epitomises the orchid. When the people get an opportunity on the next occasion they might perform a painful process called an orchidectomy. Deputy Devins can explain what that means.

Someone really should bottle Conor Lenihan and sell him on Nassau Street to Aran Jumper wearing tourists. Im not sure if any or few of you find that funny but reading it earlier I nearly burst. Images of a strained Conor Lenihan getting the soundbite in, youd think he has learned once before.

How many orchid references can you spot in there?

At least we know they have their fun too.

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  1. Blogger Simon | 1:08 a.m. |  

    ya it is gas wait for the rte comedy channel sorry i ment dail channel

  2. Blogger Cian | 1:12 a.m. |  

    better than that shite stew. How much can you drag out of a single flower reference? Thats pure genius right there.

  3. Blogger Cian | 1:20 a.m. |  

    Im still perplexed over Conor Lenihans "ruining the economy" bit, looks like he was bottom of the ol PR class.
    Still good fodder.

  4. Blogger P O'Neill | 3:34 a.m. |  

    Here's Thursday's Irish Times Dail sketch:

    Higgins displays well-stocked mind

    Dail Sketch/Frank McNally: The house was in a mood for gardening yesterday. Maybe it was the spring weather, or maybe it was news that Bertie Ahern's orchid - the one named after him in Singapore - was now being cultivated at the Botanic Gardens in Drumcondra. Either way, when the Taoiseach faced Question Time, Opposition parties were out with the pruning shears.

    Enda Kenny went beyond pruning, expressing hope that, as soon as the chance arose, the electorate would perform an "orchidectomy" on the Taoiseach. If Mr Ahern didn't know what an orchidectomy was, suggested Enda, he could check with one of his backbench doctors. Bertie just grimaced back at him.

    On a more poetic note, the Fine Gael leader warned the botanical Taoiseach that "full many a flower is born to blush unseen/And waste its sweetness on the desert air". Unfortunately, Enda attributed the lines to "Shelley" and was himself nipped in the bud by a frowning Joe Higgins. A teacher, Joe pointed out that the lines were from Gray. If the Dáil had been a classroom, he'd have sent the FG leader to the back.

    Perhaps Enda was thinking of Shelley's The Sensitive-Plant, a poem that also deals with mortality. And right enough, if the Taoiseach did undergo an orchidectomy, he would be a very sensitive plant afterwards. But the incident highlighted again that Joe Higgins is the Roy Keane of the Opposition benches. When he's not hounding the Government, he's keeping his own side of the House on their toes.

    Among the issues the Government was hounded about yesterday, the Great Southern Hotels sale dominated. The Taoiseach has been a long supporter of the group, retreating to Parknasilla every summer to get "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife". Pat Rabbitte acknowledged as much, and so found it all the more regrettable that Mr Ahern was succumbing to the PD philosophy of "putting everything under the hammer".

    Labour's Kerry TD Breeda Moynihan-Cronin thought the decision "shameful". But with a look of resignation, the Taoiseach said that if the hotels couldn't break even last year, when record numbers visited Ireland, there was something wrong. In any case, the decision had been taken by the board.

    "Fianna Fáil hacks appointed by you," snapped Roy Keane, who foresaw the privatised hotel group heading the same way as Irish Ferries. Indeed, when Mr Ahern referred to the airport hotel as the group's "flagship", the Socialist Party man was in again to suggest this was an "unfortunate choice of words".

    Mr Higgins said the hotels' fate only confirmed his long-held belief that social partnership was a "fraud". Whenever he had put it to the Taoiseach in the past, "you have treated me as if I was a rare orchid", added Joe, who may not be an orchid but is certainly cultivated.

  5. Blogger Cian | 2:52 p.m. |  

    Its true, Higgins is one of the few saving graces of a soulless dail enterprise. He is sharp and a great orator. Perhaps necessary as a one man band for socialism.
    He and his like need to be heard in a wider array of contexts to give politics a bit more appeal.

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