IT WAS the day they tried to drag old Seanad Éireann down — but they hadn’t banked on the firepower of David “Chuck” Norris.
Part Henry V, part Jedi Knight, part Jedward, the Joycean scholar rallied the upper chamber to fight for its life rather than accept the indignity of slinking off silently into the political night.
Some hailed his call to arms as “presidential” — and it was true that if he ever stood for president of the Oireachtas Amateur Dramatics Society, Chuck would sweep all before him.
Mere abolition? What tosh. The stakes are much higher than that for the crony-packed chamber.
“To put it bluntly, we are confronted with the possibility of extinction,” Chuck informed his awe-struck audience, pumping steel into their spines with tales of ancient Rome as he temporarily took the throne, sorry chair, before the election of a Speaker.
“Like an army, the Seanad should be reorganised, drilled and disciplined, with us keeping ourselves honed in mind and body for the coming conflict,” Chuck implored.
And how they massed to his banner of fire. Without a hint of pomposity Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry declared “I too am a reformist as opposed to an abolitionist,” — as if this was 1861 and the Northern and Southern US states were about to make bloody separation.
And up rose Ronan Mullen, who after denouncing the “left wing” bent of Enda Kenny’s nominations (has he ever met our Tory Taoiseach?) got so over-excited he confused lemmings with lemons.
There they stood — The Three Seanadiers — ready to do battle for the second rate second chamber.
How could they lose?
Chuck took no prisoners. By turns he was a Shakespearean hero on the eve of Agincourt, then he seemed to be channelling the Force in Star Wars Part III: Revenge Of The Sith — the space opera movie’s plot-line eerily predicting Irish politics — an all-powerful Dark Lord (Enda) determined to sweep away the Galactic Senate and rule as unchallenged emperor.
But most of all, Chuck was Jedward in the Battle of Dusseldorf — yes, he would probably lose, but like the Titanic Twins before him, all Europe would remember him as the moral victor.
However, the ghosts of Seanad past clung to the chamber’s 24th opening gathering. The “venal actions of some” were mentioned, but who could they mean?
Certainly not Ivor Callely, sadly unable to continue the one-man political car crash of his career in the Upper House as he now watches events unfold from his Dublin/West Cork home — forever convinced of his status as St Ivor, martyred at the Crossroads of Mileage.
The Seanad was so tired after its first three-hour session it adjourned for a week — but it had already given us so much. Magnificent, yet doomed, Chuck’s stance was reminiscent of The Charge Of The Slight Brigade: “Apathy to right of him. Apathy to the left of him. Apathy behind him. ‘Forward, the Slight Brigade! Charge for the guns!’ Chuck said: Into the valley of Death rode the sixty senators.
“When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honour the charge they made. Honour the Slight Brigade!”
The Seanad’s not dead yet.
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