At home with the Healy-Raes

At least Jackie Healy-Rae was partly right when announcing at the start of yet another TV probe into the Kerry political dynasty: “We’re like Santa Claus, we’re everywhere”.

Given that a chunk of this TV3 look at their lives is given over to the reaction of TD Michael Healy-Rae to criticism of him writing while driving during a recent RTÉ documentary, it is certainly true that the clan are hard to avoid.

But Santa Claus? Yes, they have certainly delivered many goodies to their South Kerry constituents, but at what price to the country as a whole?

Mr Healy-Rae senior remembers the deal he cut for local road funding with then finance minister Brian Lenihan in late 2010 in order to continue to prop- up the most disastrous and unpopular administration in the history of the State.

“We went into Lenihan and he said ‘Jackie, we’ll sort out your side of it today, What will it have to be?’ he said. In one word I said, ‘it’ll have to be one million’ I said. Lenihan gave me the million; there was no problem in the world.”

Mr Healy-Rae then refers to the time this political payoff was agreed as “the year that we disintegrated — the month before it” without a hint of regret or remorse for his part in that national disintegration by keeping Brian Cowen & Co in power for so long after they had clearly lost control of events.

However, he did express anger at the cut to his medical card in last month’s budget, conveniently forgetting his own role as saviour of a government that first launched the austerity assaults on the elderly and the poor in successive crisis budgets.

But you cannot fault his judge of character when he refers to Bertie Ahern thus: “There were no tricks or blackguardry. He was straight as could be.”

Curious then that, the Mahon corruption probe effectively branded the former taoiseach a liar when it declared his evidence as unbelievable.

Son Michael was on safer ground when he lavished praise on JFK and Pope John Paul II, but describing them as “the two most influential men in the world ever” might be overstating things a tad.

And now Healy-Rae: The Next Generation is looming into view with the brood’s Danny and his son Johnny standing in the local elections next year.

With a family member yet to lose an election, is the tide finally turning — now that no Healy-Rae can trade their Dáil vote for constituency spoils in these austerity days of solid government majorities?

Danny might come across a smidgen anxious when he defends the Healy-Rae name: “There’s been a few that have, even in Kerry County Council, tried to put us down, to say that the money that was got for the roads was got for ourselves so that we could get work out of it, but everyone else got work.”

It would seem the gardaí were also flat out working when Jackie’s beloved horse Peig was stolen. Recalling the animal’s recapture, he states: “We had every guard in Ireland after her, I’m not joking. There was bedlam in the Dáil. The lads above were saying Peig is found and there’s still no trace of Shergar.”

No trace of Shergar was ever found — the Healy-Rae’s on the other hand, are seemingly impossible to avoid.

* At Home with the Healy-Raes, Monday, 9pm, TV3.


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