The sound of Christmas choirs resounded around Leinster House yesterday but Enda Kenny was not interested in tenors, he was only after tenners — from child benefit payments to the neediest families in the State or anywhere else he could snatch them.
Enda, the taoiseach who stole Christmas, did not even join in the clapping when the Ceann Comhairle lit up the tree at the back of the Dáil, his hands firmly in his pockets safe from the cold — though the arctic blast of disapproval today’s budget that will burst his way should prove harder to escape.
It was a frosty occasion in all manner of senses as Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore arrived late and shook all the other party leaders’ hands, but not Enda’s.Surely just a slip-up, not a manifestation of the budget battered state of relations within the cut-happy Coalition?
However, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett could easily have been speaking for his erstwhile Fine Gael party when he realised he had failed to acknowledge one of the two groups of singers, stating: “I apologise for leaving out the chorus on my left” — it is probably the nearest thing Labour will get to a sorry for having their social justice agenda shut-out of the budget negotiations.
Mr Kenny had started the festivities with the Palestrina Boys Choir on the steps of Government Buildings — and he began as he meant to go on in the budget by leaving the children shivering in the cold as they waited for his attention.
When he did eventually turn up, the Taoiseach had a nice chat with the boys whose next gig is before the Pope at the Vatican on Jan 6 — and at least we can be sure they will not be as rude as to play with their mobile phones in front of the pontiff as Mr Kenny did when he was last in Rome.
Mr Kenny then popped into leaders’ questions and did his usual trick of avoiding giving any answer that could be considered vaguely associated with the query put to him, before launching his own version of class warfare on Richard Boyd Barrett for committing the appalling sin of condemning theexpected child benefit cuts despite having the temerity to be sent to a private school by his parents.
Enda’s unexpected rail against fee-paying schools might have been a refreshing attempt at social egalitarianism, except for the fact his Government has this year pumped €96m of taxpayers’ money into such institutions while slashing hundreds of teaching posts from the most deprived schools in the country.
After that it was off to the tree lighting ceremony where self-propelled publicity machine and independent deputy Finian McGrath revelled in teasing Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he should get behind him in the photo as the technical group of indies has now overtaken all others in the polls to stand second behind Fine Gael.
With a Government and opposition like that it is not hard to see why Christmas feels cancelled this year.
Enda’s attack on Posh-Boy Barrett and much harsher assault on the poor shows he’s a good ranter, but a bad Santa.
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