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Saturday, June 30, 2012
SOME 40 MPs in Zimbabwe have undergone a mass circumcision — please insert your own joke here about Coalition TDs already being castrated.
But at least the Zimbabwean lawmakers really did do it for the public good, as such a procedure dramatically reduces the risk of HIV infections, while our own deputies’ motives are rather more self-serving.
Though hardly a eunuch in Europe, Enda Kenny has adopted a policy of prostration towards the EU giants since he crawled away from a bruising early encounter with Nicolas Sarkozy licking his wounds.
Given Ireland’s size as just 1% of the union, that was probably sensible, but as Ireland is a mega percentage of the problem, there was certainly room to at least threaten a bit of trouble in the ever close-to-
exploding euro bubble.
But once again our lucky general is saved by the boldness of others. As with the interest rate cut on loans last year, Enda can walk away from this Brussels summit with a smile on his face thanks to the fierceness of Italy and Spain.
So with that in mind, less of the crowing, particularly from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who was almost frothing at the mouth with self-congratulation.
Italy shook the EU down like a professional poker player at a Las Vegas card shark school.
Rome knew the new French president, François Hollande, would be humiliated if he left his first summit without the nod towards a growth strategy which he based his election victory on, and so Italian premier Mario Monti dug his Gucci heels in on that, insisting he would block it unless his country got a banking break.
That the grey technocrat Monti was effectively imposed as an unelected head of government in Italy by the old Merkozy dual monarchy only added to the spice of the encounter.
Super Mario’s double victory over the Germans was how the Italians were flagging it after their national side roared to the Euro 2012 final on the pitch against their better fancied Teutonic opponents, and Monti played dirty to ensure victory in Brussels as well.
Once again, Ireland was able to coast to success in the slipstream of other nations that were prepared to fight hard in the way Dublin either could not, or would not.
But getting Ireland specifically mentioned in the text agreement, when other beggar nations such as Portugal were omitted, was something of a coup, though we have the tireless behind-the-scenes work of faceless diplomats such as Geraldine Byrne-Nason in the Taoiseach’s department and Jim O’Brien in finance to thank for such endeavours.
Shame nobody really knows what the deal means, though. It was quite clear Mr Gilmore did not as he made a triumphalist procession through morning radio yesterday, talking up the Government’s glorious achievement in forcing a "seismic shift" in European policy, yet strangely vague with the details of what was going to happen next.
Given the fact that neither Hollande nor Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister, bothered to show up for the pre-summit gathering of Socialist leaders on Thursday Mr Gilmore attended, we can be clear it was not that little group that pushed the agenda.
Mr Gilmore’s attitude, and that of the Taoiseach in a post-Brussels press conference, dripped with the delirium of having something positive to bring home — even if they did not really understand the implications, and were not really responsible for its creation.
In the patronising manner we have come to expect from such types, European Council president Herman van Rompuy said Ireland and the others had finally been cut a break because they were "well behaved".
Well, no one has been as obsequious masochistic about applying the brutality of austerity as the Irish Government, but Greece, Italy and Spain well behaved? Don’t be chumpy, Mr van Rompuy.
Back home, the backbench boys were delighted to be knee-deep in something other than despair — even, if, like everybody else, they could not quite explain it.
But after the long-delayed and typical tepid insolvency bill, it was a bit of bright light in an otherwise relentlessly grim vista of austerity bites.
Ambitious and restless deputies are being kept in their place by the promise of junior ministries in next year’s reshuffle, but then it doesn’t really take much to keep them politically castrated and cowed.
Yeah, let the bankers keep the whip hand and the veto in settlements on mortgage misery — but, of course, we never got a veto on bailing out those same banks to the point of national penury, no that would never do.
One TD already thinking out loud about the reshuffle is a certain Leo Varadkar, who publicly announced he wanted an initiative in place by the time of the ministerial merry-go-around in late 2013 — clearly concerned he will not hold on to his transport portfolio.
That would be a shame, because whatever one may think of Varadkar’s brand of thrusting Thatcherite politics and self-confessed total lack of people skills, his willingness to say what he thinks when others blandly recite the party line is at least entertaining in its aftermath.
Some speculated his attempts to choke Croke Park was a concerted effort by Fine Gael to push a right-wing agenda which was really aimed at appearing to threaten Labour’s union-friendly sacred cow so that the junior party would be more compliant when they come for welfare in the run-up to December’s bloody budget.
The only problem with this juicy conspiracy theory is that it requires a level of strategic cunning and effectiveness that the Blueshirt’s have somehow kept remarkably well hidden during the last 15 months of power.
The reality is more likely to be that little Leo is prone to outbursts of a sort of political Tourette’s and just can’t help blurting out the uncomfortable truth — making him one of the few Dáil members who cannot be neutered by the machine.
But the Taoiseach has happier things on his mind for now, as he reflects on how fitting it is that whoever wins on the pitch tomorrow, the bailout boys of Italy and Spain have already trounced the Germans in Brussels.
And just look at that smile on the face of that lucky goal-hanger Enda.
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