VLAD, our all-powerful, all-knowing, beloved, bold, wise and inspiring leader, was not impressed by the efforts of his Mini-minister for Old Crocks, our own Jim Daly, to keep the elderly from freezing to the marrow. On a morning radio show, Jim advised pensioners to keep the heating on during the cold snap, including nighttime, as there was no point ‘putting money before health.’
Old codgers around the country, particularly in his constituency of Cork South West, loudly cheered as they shuffled to their stove burners to turn on a decent burst of heat, confident in the knowledge that the nice Mr Varadkar, his mini-minister Jim, and the Fine Gael government, would pick up the tab.
But Vlad had been exceedingly nettled by Our Jim’s plan to turn OAPs’ homes into blast furnaces, and he whinged in the Dáil that ‘this was not the advice of Government.’
Said Varadkar: ‘A blank cheque will not be written for the elderly. If we tell people that they can put on the heating 24/7 and that the Government or somebody else will pick up the bill, regardless of what it is, we will send out the wrong message to them.’
Sorry about that!
A shocked Jim immediately backtracked, rushing like the hammers of a very hot hell on to the RTÉ Six One News to tell the country’s doddery geriatrics that he’d made a terrible mistake, and to turn down the shaggin’ central heating (or words to that effect). This time, the FG message was clear and concise: don’t leave the heating on max in the belief Vlad and pals were picking up the bill! Oh, and stuff the shivering pensioners, the decrepit and those with one frozen foot in the grave!
There followed hot flushes at Vlad’s lack of compassion, which raised this intriguing question: will Our Jim politically survive the cringe-inducing embarrassment that was heaped on his humanitarian shoulders when all that he wanted to do was nothing more than to improve the welfare and happiness of people for whom he had responsibility as mini-minister?
Answer? Of course, he’ll survive; that’s the nature of politics.
Out of order?
Nonetheless the public perceived Our Jim’s effort at ameliorating hardship for the elderly as an act of decency that did not warrant Varadkar’s contemptuous rejection.
After all, Vlad owes his high office as Taoiseach to Daly and other one-time rebels who for years conspired to get him into the top job when it was neither politically safe, profitable or popular to do so.
And then came Vlad’s hatchet job that left our hero looking like a plonker! Not fair! Not fair at all!
A right little bruahaha erupted in the Dáil last week when a FF deputy described the launch of Vlad’s infamous €116bn Project Ireland plan as similar in style to the way Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s genius of spin, announced his propaganda exercises.
Accusations were thick on the ground that FG had attempted to make the party’s declaration sound like real news, even if the content was nothing more than an advertisement for FG (fake news). Also unsettling were rumours that an unnamed media company (supposedly owning several regional news titles) had been involved in running the ‘advertising’ campaign for Fine Gael.
Worse still, during the parliamentary argy-bargy, horrible denunciations were made of Vlad’s beloved Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) – the principal one being that it had no function other than that of promoting the FG party.
Varadkar strenuously denied that government officials had instructed newspaper editors to ‘blur the line’ between news and advertising, and he told Indo/Sindo pals that it was right and proper that the Government should want to explain to the public what it was doing.
But what really offended Fine Gael was the suggestion that its media barrage resembled Nazi propaganda. Vlad was deeply wounded at the shamelessness of those Soldiers of Destiny who spread such an allegation, and he complained that any comparison between his party’s ‘information campaign’ and Nazi propaganda was ‘below contempt.’
The FF comments, he said, ‘belittled the Holocaust.’
How he arrived at the latter conclusion is a bit of a mystery, other than that Goebbels fully approved and encouraged the killing of millions of Jewish people and the extermination of political prisoners.
We cannot see any similarity between Fine Gael and the Nazis. After all, it was Goebbels, not Leo Varadkar, who established the principle that when porkies were repeated often enough they became facts in the minds of a gullible public!
Yet, telling political porkies is something that our Dáil representatives innocently learn at their mother’s knee – which, of course does not imply in any sense that their mothers were fanatical admirers of Joseph Goebbels.
The truth is that Goebbels was the first grand manipulator of the modern media; others learned from him and we must live with that. As for dealing with opposition within the Nazi party, he considered party members to be only ‘a pile of shi**.’
Which, interestingly enough, was an echo of the disdain the Irish Mussolini (Fianna Fáil’s Squire Hockey) had for party groundlings. And it also recalled the flirtatious relationship that the Blueshirts (later to become Fine Gael) enjoyed with continental fascism.
All round, last week’s Dáil debate raised some rather nasty ghosts and did no favours for Irish democracy.
Blather about snow
And now for something different: Our old chum, the Skibbereen philosopher and occasional Dinty’s patron, was not impressed with the blather about snow falling like sheep’s wool on West Cork, or that it resembled a multitude of frozen moths descending in swift spirals – turns of phrase that, no doubt, our local poets will hone into lyrical works of art in time for the Christmas card trade.
As far as our practically minded metaphysician was concerned, the cold last week was so severe that it had brass monkeys looking for a welder!
Indeed his observations on recent climatic conditions were rich in West Cork humour and shrewd observation. For instance, at the commencement of the wintry spell, he said he met a farmer from around Abbeystrowry who heard there was a 50 per cent chance of snow and, consequently, wore only one boot going into town. And that another neighbour complained of getting ice cream when milking the cows. (Is this correct? – Ed)
Certainly our homespun pundit, like all of us, suffered. ‘Cripes,’ he commented while lowering a double Jameson, ‘I was so cold, I almost got married.’
He then told us that his prospective mother-in-law had been staring through the window since it began to snow. ‘If it gets any worse, I’ll have to let her in!’ he remarked.