IT’S ‘Gissa Job’ time once again; that vernal season when the sounds of lambing fill the hills and dales of West Cork, the sun is always shining and the careers of certain politicos are at a flourishing stage of development. As with local lad, Jim Daly TD.
A prominent member of the very best party (Fine Gael) that money can buy, Our Jim is waiting for the call that will reward his investment in fidelity, allegiance, homage and devotion to his hero, Vlad the Impaler, new leader of the party.
So let’s call a spade a spade. Is it not incumbent on Dr Vlad to offer Jim a reward for services rendered? For instance, the onerous job of Junior Minister – box of chocs optional – has to be a possibility. Having served the party loyally and politely, a mini-ministership is the least he deserves.
What’s more, the abundance of brainpower, discernment, wit and intellect that God graciously bestowed on the inhabitants of Carbery’s Hundred Isles is admirably manifested in human form by Mr Jim Daly NT, TD – a fact that has never been acknowledged by the politician’s metropolitan comrades.
Nor has that lot ever appreciated the difficulties encountered by someone representing a faraway and exotic place like the Cork South West constituency.
Give him a break
So, we say to you, Dr Vlad, give Our Jim something to bite on. He deserves it for his rigorous and diagnostic qualities as a local politician, and for the use of his outstanding brainpan in his work as a public representative. His concerns go beyond the neighbourhood and transcend boundaries that are both real and imaginary.
Above all, he stuck by you, Dr Vlad, when it was neither profitable nor popular. Such as the time of the Five-a-side Club – a quasi-secret society disgustingly presented in sections of the media as a federation of backstabbers whose goal was to ‘do in’ the then dear leader of the party, Dame Enda.
We still can recall the sense of shock occasioned by Our Jimmy and Deputy Brendan Griffin at a Blueshirt gathering in Newbridge, Co Kildare, when the indomitable duo coyly intimated that a challenge to Enda’s leadership of Fine Gael might be a good idea.
The boss smartly told the naughty lads to bugger off and, dearie me, how we all chuckled! But Jim is a good sport and took the humiliating rebuff in his stride.
Catching Vlad’s eye
Political circumstances now have changed and what was previously unattainable is currently within reach, namely the mini-ministership. Of course, others think the same as heavy duty wheelbarrows full of supplicants trying to catch Varadkar’s eye line up outside the gaffer’s office.
And, as Our Jimmy well knows, competition is fierce in the attempt to establish superiority, particularly since Vlad is unlikely to drop FG ministers from the Cabinet table on account of the debt he owes to those who publicly backed him.
Consequently any changes to his team mostly will happen in the junior ranks. Petitioners include John Deasy, Brendan Griffin, Pat Deering, John Paul Phelan and, of course, Our Jimmy, who is an extra-special politico on account of his deep and serious thought processes. Without a doubt whatsoever, he deserves purpose-built consideration and ultimately, the job.
In the clink
Here are some examples that illustrate the way he uses his political brain: Last December, he proposed that people refusing to pay water charges should be hammered with rolling €10 monthly fines until they owed enough money to warrant attachment orders and court action. Blueshirts everywhere cried hooray because if there’s one thing that focuses the minds of trouble makers, it’s a spell in the clink.
Sadly, however, no one took him seriously – perhaps an inevitable reaction by a large section of the population that accused Fine Gael of screwing ordinary people and who felt it was wrong to charge for a resource that already had been paid for.
Interesting too that Our Jimmy’s recommendation for solving the water charge controversy came in the wake of an explosion of plebeian rage that sent a cold electoral warning up Blueshirt tails. Fine Gael got the message, but for Our Jimmy the warning ran like water off a duck’s back. He stuck to his guns in supporting charges; his single-mindedness of purpose and inflexibility impressing all right wing-thinking people, especially Dr Vlad!
Our Jimmy’s steely determination was also evident in an extraordinary row concerning education. A former múinteoir and principal of Skibbereen Gaelscoil, Jimmy was of the opinion that his fellow pedagogues were earning too much money after discovering they had had been paid a total of €2.5 billion in allowances over five years.
Primary school teachers (the INTO) were incensed by the accusation and said he was making an unfair attack on former colleagues. Secondary teachers (the ASTI) pulled no punches and denounced talk of teachers’ allowances as perks or bonuses as ‘utter and malicious nonsense.’
Nonetheless, although he riled the country’s entire teaching profession he didn’t give a hoot. He easily absorbed the criticism and, in the ensuing argy-bargy, ably fended off allegations that he was the recipient of the highest level of expenses paid to Oireachtas members.
He explained he was entitled to substantial travelling exes because of the distance from his home to Dáil Eireann. Phone calls, lighting, heating, leaflet distribution, advertising, conferences, office rental, office furniture, signage and the general maintenance of a successful constituency office tended to rack up bills, he said.
So, on the basis that he’s the ideal candidate for a mini-minister’s job, what is Varadkar likely to offer him? Why not responsibility for the Gaeltacht, which is a sort of no-man’s-land in political terms.
The present incumbent, Heather Humphries is burdened with Gaeltacht Affairs, as well as Arts, Heritage, Regional and Rural Affairs.
What’s more, she confesses to having poor knowledge of the Irish language. Our Jimmy, on the other hand, has more than a cúpla focail and would be very useful to Ms Humphries in helping her solve the mysteries of the Modh Coinníollach!
Oh, by the way, Gerry Adams had the last word on the selection of Vlad as leader of Fine Gael. How come, he asked, that 65% of the FG membership voted for Simon Coveney, yet Leo Varadkar managed to come through as winner? (Coveney got 7,173 votes. Varadkar received 3,946).
He pointed out that Varadkar had no mandate to lead this state and barely had a mandate to lead his own party.
He represented only a minority in Fine Gael.
His comment struck a chord in the letters column of The Irish Times where a writer suggested Fine Gael should think twice when lecturing other political parties on democracy.
And, what about Micheál Martin? Will he become the first leader of Fianna Fáil to elect two Fine Gael Taoisigh?