Michael Noonan ready for backbench craic

As he faces into his last day in Cabinet, the Minister for Finance yesterday tore up his ministerial scripts and let rip with the famous Michael Noonan wit.

He spoke of looking forward to enjoying the craic in the Dáil away from the intensity of the frontline.

“I have another bit to do now as a contrary backbencher from Wednesday until I leave politics at the next election,” he said at the opening of the new emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.

“The function of a contrary backbencher is to light a fire under the appropriate minister and ask parliamentary questions which don’t have an answer.”

Later at Northern Trust, where 400 jobs were announced, he said: “Today, before I finish up, I have to go back to Dublin to deal with the small matter of selling a bank. 

"Charlie McCreevy is a great friend of mine since our days in the wilderness when we sat on the back benches when both of us were out of favour with our respective leaders.

“We used to say to each other as we couldn’t run the country from the back benches we had an obligation to entertain the people. I am going back to that stage now and I think I have an obligation to entertain the people as a backbench TD.”

Asked if he would consider going on stage, he said: “The public are after 40 years of Michael Noonan, how could you give them a night.”

While retirement can be interesting, it is not always so, he said. He recalled years ago a farmer friend in Co Limerick rang him.

“His cattle had all been taken away off his farm because of brucellosis,” said Mr Noonan. “His wife was at work, the children were all reared and he was at home alone.

“People in the country address each other with the full name. He said to me: ‘Jaysus Michael Noonan I’m looking out the window with the rain coming down from the Galtees.

"Do you know what, if a fox came across the field in front of me it would be a cause of excitement. I hope I won’t end up like that.”


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