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Saturday, July 21, 2012
THE Boss blew into town and left a trail of devastation in his wake,
No, not over-rated rawk star Springsteen, but the country’s real boss — IMF hatchet man Ajai Chopra.
Even though the increasingly creaky Coalition insisted Chopra’s warblings about means-testing child benefits was just background music and not a must download track from his groundbreaking bailout album, the sound certainly jarred with people.
But the Government was too busy tearing itself apart over its failings in health to really listen to the threats from Chopra.
For Fine Gael, Health Minister James Reilly was keeping the Tánaiste and Labour ministers deliberately in the dark over the very sudden, and very embarrassing, departure of an HSE chief who was just over a year in the job.
But on Planet Enda, our dear leader decided to try and cover-over the very pointed snub by delivering a stream of consciousness outburst which was surreal even by his standards as he informed the nation people use words to speak to each other.
"There is a difference between having words and speaking. When you speak you have to use words, obviously. The Tánaiste has spoken to the Minister for Health and the Minister for Health has spoken back to the Tánaiste.
"So, generally when people speak to each other they use words. Your interpretation of that is that the words might have been louder than normal conversation might be. I don’t think that’s the case."
All of which again elicits that all too familiar response to Enda pronouncements so beloved of texters, namely: WTF?
The Taoiseach then warned journalists not to "overreact", and even used that incendiary phrase that saw him nearly tumble into a giant flowerpot a few weeks ago when he insisted: "There’s no need to make a story out of this."
It is just as well Enda never became a news editor, you could imagine the scene: "Two planes have just crashed into the Twin Towers, you say? Not much of a story there, surely?"
But, you see Enda, there is a bit of story in this as Reilly, or Dr Debt, to give him his professional name, is now piling on the trouble in much the same quantity as Jordan piles on the fake tan.
Dr Debt is well known for his disputatious nature, but even a war-like a figure such as himself must realise the danger of waging so many battles on so many fronts at once.
Just as Napoleon over-stretched himself and was forced into the humiliating retreat from Moscow immortalised in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, the 2012 overture in the Coalition is one to make Reilly retreat from arrogance as he faces unfriendly fire from within Fine Gael as well as from Labour.
Mr Gilmore now admits it was "regrettable" for the deputy head of Government to have to hear from the radio that the HSE boss had quit , rather than from Reilly. But that is nowhere near as "regrettable" as many Labour TDs feel about the Tánaiste’s obsequious backing for Reilly last week when he became the first serving minister to be named in debtor sheet of shame The Stubbs Gazette.
Reilly should have been sacked for failing to comply with a High Court order and ending-up listed there among all the other debtors, but Gilmore rode to his aid, and Fianna Fáil are such a useless excuse for an opposition they applied barely any pressure at all.
All the Coalition’s woes are self-inflicted as they stagger into the long recess (which they sneakily bumped an extra week onto this year — just to prove how quickly they have abandoned the "New Politics" agenda of transparency and hard work) with yet another PR disaster of their own making stinging them.
In grimly farcical scenes, Enda’s permanently-in-a-spin-Spin-Dr Feargal Purcell said he had emailed the pictures of Michaela McAreavey’s corpse to the Taoiseach and Mr Kenny had looked at them. Mr Purcell’s version of events then began to unravel as he suddenly announced he did not know if the Taoiseach had viewed them and later claimed Mr Kenny had not looked at them at all.
The whole "Enda looked at them/I don’t know if Enda looked at them/Enda didn’t look at them" episode stretched credulity to its outer limits and made one wonder if there was any situation this Government could not misjudge or mess up.
But then someone must still admire Enda — and so step forward one of the world’s most feared terrorist chiefs, Hafiz Saeed.
Saeed, who carries a $10m American bounty on his head, raised eyebrows this week for praising British Tories David Cameron and Boris Johnson for their modest "Islamic lifestyles" which include bike riding as he launched a campaign to rein in the excesses of Pakistan’s corruption-riddled ruling elite.
Surely, he would also be well impressed with Ireland’s top Tory as not only does Enda cycle the ring of Kerry, he also lives above a coffee shop in Dublin.
In a petition lodged at the Lahore High Court, Saeed noted that while Pakistan’s leaders were "living like kings and princes in palatial government houses", Britain’s prime minister lived in a four-bedroom flat on a street dating back to the 17th century.
"When the sun never set on the British Empire the chief executive of that great country lived in the same house of a few marlas [a fraction of an acre] in a small street. That is truly Islamic, that is like following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet [peace be upon him]," he stated in the petition.
Although they might not be Muslims, Saeed said Britain’s leaders were following an Islamic lifestyle by travelling in trains and buses rather than private helicopters or extravagant motorcades.
In May Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group which has launched attacks on Indian troops in Kashmir, had a $10m bounty placed on his head by the US in an attempt to get information leading to his arrest and conviction over his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left more than 166 people dead.
So, with potential admirers like him, Enda’s enemies in the Coalition must not look so bad after all.
Even if Reilly’s Springsteenesque riff of disdain to the Tánaiste is: "Baby, I Was Born To Shun."
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