OPINION: Minister finds it's sink or swim time – for real

November 26th, 2018 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team


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WHAT is it with our politicos and accidental immersion in water?  

For instance, to the sly amusement of journos and snappers, former Tánaiste Joan Burton experienced an unintended ducking a few years ago while on her way to see the devastation of flood damage in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. She tumbled from a canoe.  

And then, last week, Mini-minister for Old Codgers, Jim Daly, all dickied-up in his best clobber, fell headlong into a swimming pool in Baltimore while testing the waters – literally.  Now, ‘testing the waters’ is an indispensable procedure that politicians employ whenever they want to ascertain public opinion without getting too involved. Only that Jim carried out the operation in the exact sense of the word, and in he went with quite a considerable splash! 

By the same token, he demonstrated to the punters that the sign of a successful politico is to be able to swim under water while holding one’s breath even if the large hole in the ground, (the one he was officially inaugurating) had an uncanny similarity to the pool created by his own political dreams! (Pool of Dreams – Swimming Pool. Geddit?)


Bill Gates’ pool

OK, that aside, his unfortunate mishap – which he suffered in characteristic, heroic and stolidly calm style – reminded us of the joke about Bill Gate’s enormous swimming pool filled with piranha. Gates decided to hold a contest for his lawyers; the prize being that whoever could swim the length of the pool without being eaten would get to administer all of Microsoft’s business.

‘Gentlemen,’ Gates announced, ‘please follow me.’  Then he snapped his fingers. With that, a servant opened a door and a cow rushed out and stumbled into the pool. In no time at all, the cow was nothing but bones.  

At that point Gates declared the competition open. Everyone took a step back in terror except for a lawyer named Hector who seemed to be propelled into the water.  Furiously, he swam across the pool, hauled himself out and stood there panting.  

‘Bravo!’ shouted Gates. ‘You have proven to me how much you want my business. ‘Actually, I want just one thing,’ gasped Hector. 

‘What’s that?’  

‘The name of the bastard that pushed me in.’


‘Pretend’ push

And, curiously, Our Jim later declared that someone gave him a ‘pretend’ push, sending him into the West Cork version of Davy Jones’ Locker.  

And, he says, before he knew what was happening, he was sinking to the bottom of the pool in his good suit. Not funny at all, and he got a terrible fright.  As one would, if unfamiliar with the joys of chlorinated water! Fortunately for the politician, it was an all-FG event and no Fianna Fáil piranhas were around to gloat at him for being well and truly…wait for it … out of his depth! (That’s a terrible joke. You’re fired – Ed) 

Of course, the incident was nothing more than a bit of Blueshirt horsing around, the type of craic the lads get up to in the locker-room, and absolutely no harm intended; nor was it part of any sinister by-election conspiracy to do him in!  Certainly not!


Environmental impact

And now for something different: The Port of Cork’s chief executive, Brendan Keating, quite rightly is proud of the boost to the local economy that cruise liners make when they visit Cobh and Bantry. He said a total of 92 cruise ships visited Cork in 2018, which injected ‘a €12m boost into the local economy over the summer season.’

As matters stand, all cruise operations are handled in Cobh which is Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth but here’s a question: except for the taxi drivers and some publicans selling Irish coffee, who are the beneficiaries of that whopping €12 million? Certainly not Cobh!

Nor does the Port of Cork seem too concerned about the pollution impact the vessels are having on the town, particularly air pollution while docked at the Deep Water Quay. 

 One cruise ship can produce 13 million cars worth of CO2 in one day, while lax laws permit ships to dump sewage in international waters three miles offshore.

Environmentalists also assert that, even at dock, some cruise ships run dirty diesel engines to provide electrical power to passengers and ships.

The Port of Cork has asked a lot of Cobh and the town, to its credit, has responded admirably. Let’s now see a quid pro quo from the city mariners.


Thong in cheek!

And to end on a lighter note, what about ‘The Thong in the Dáil ‘ or, to be more precise, the ‘Thong and Dance in the Dáil’ whereby deputy Ruth Coppinger got maximum exposure for exhibiting a lady’s nether garment in public;  to wit, a lacy thong.

To the astonishment of the members of the House, and the nation, the deputy said her display of the undergarment was to highlight a rape trial in which remarks were made by a distinguished female senior counsel about the complainant’s underwear.

Interestingly, Dáil cameras quickly cut away from Coppinger when she energetically waved  a lady’s knickers – which got us thinking about what can and cannot be said or done in the Dáil chamber, and the relevance of decorum, appropriateness and good manners.

A precedent in bizarre antics already exists: the lap-sitting prank by government Fine Gael TDs during an all-night session some years ago, but that now pales into insignificance when compared to the knickers caper.

Dáil Standing Orders give a comprehensive picture of procedure and practice in the Chamber; in other words, what deputies are allowed to say and do and what they aren’t allowed to say and do. 


Hidden underpants

Importantly, the Rules make no mention about hiding a pair of lady’s underpants up one’s sleeve (of all the incongruent places!) and then, at an opportune moment, extracting the intimate item of clothing and madly waving it about to make a point.

Yet, whatever about exotic actions – such as those of Deputy Coppinger – the Dáil is quite sensitive to the use of ‘improper’ words.  For instance  the term ‘hand-bagging’ (when speaking about ‘a lady member of the House’) is deemed unparliamentary.  Other banned words include ‘scoundrel, buffoon, guttersnipe and scumbag’ although, presumably, these only refer to males.

Nonetheless the use of any ‘prop’ is against the rules, and the Dáil has yet to decide if a pair of female knickers can be considered ‘a prop.’ Until that matter is settled, who knows what the nuttier elements in Dáil Éireann will do to make a point: wear Y-fronts on their heads?  

Oh, and if the deputies ever decide to sell lingerie for plus-size ladies, we have the name for the new Dáil shop: King Thong!

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