SHAUN CONNOLLY: The wheels are coming off this arrogant government

Dara Murphy called gardaí to drive him from Cork to Dublin after his car broke down.

Enda Kenny’s two-day visit to Atlanta cost us €4,300 for a chauffeur, while Europe Minister Dara Murphy commandeered a squad car, and the time and services of two gardaí, to drive him 214 miles to Dublin Airport, writes Shaun Connolly

ARROGANCE was the watchword of the week as the Dáil returned. Well, I say ‘returned’ — after a two-month holiday, TDs turned up on Tuesday, told each other how good they were, then buggered off at 2pm on Thursday for a four-day weekend. We pay them €1,673 a week.

But that’s car fare for the likes of Enda Kenny — he splashed €20,000 of our cash on limos for himself and his entourage in July. The bills mainly related to his US St Patrick’s day visit the previous March, with a two-day stint in Atlanta costing us €4,300 in fancy wheels.

Then, the self-styled man of the people jetted off to Washington DC and gave Admiral Limo €2,700 of the people’s money to be chauffeur-driven.

I’ve been to Washington DC and know that the city has a very reliable, and immaculately clean (they ban all food and drink) metro, so Mr Kenny could have got to the White House, in comfort and on time, for $2.15.

At least Mr Kenny leads by example, as his Europe Minister, Dara Murphy, seems to think the police force is merely a VIP taxi service with nice uniforms and flashing lights. How else can you explain his extraordinary decision to call the cops when he broke down in rural Cork and then to sit back in comfort, while two on-duty officers drove him 214 miles to Dublin Airport?

Dublin Airport’s Terminal One
Dublin Airport’s Terminal One

Scrambling for an excuse, Mr Murphy glibly tells us that, on his return to Ireland, he spoke to Garda top brass, and everything was just dandy because there was no extra cost to the force, as the officers were on duty at the time.

Dah, Dara! That is the whole point. The two officers were on duty and you went on a jolly little spin with them across the country.

And why did it take two of them to accompany the minister? Were they lonely?

Mr Murphy says his car broke down at 3am, and, after failing to contact a real taxi, he turned to the guards for help, as he was on “government business” and needed to get a flight to Brussels.

Maybe, just maybe, they could have dropped him in the nearest town, where it would have been easier to arrange transport, but being driven over 200 miles is outrageous.

Does Mr Murphy not have any friends or family who could have given him a lift? He will certainly have far fewer voters next time out.

The timing could not have been worse, as Mr Kenny was thrown onto the back foot, after spiralling crime rates in rural areas, and his miserable attempt at an election bribe of €30m to spruce-up dilapidated villages — but only after you vote Fine Gael — received the derision it deserved.

The sheer arrogance of drive-by Dara is reminiscent of the last Fianna Fáil-led government, in which Brian Cowen commandeered a helicopter to whisk him to a rugby match in Limerick, and Mary Harney used a coastal service plane to fly her to a pal’s off-licence, which Harney was opening.

And as if Fine Gael were not capable of generating their own arrogance overload, who pops up at the Ploughing Championship, but Mr Mega-Ego himself, Phil Hogan.

Seven year old Eva Nolan from Wexford was enjoying her day off from school by helping EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan gain control of a radio controlled tractor at the farm safety demo which is designed to teach children about the no go areas, dangers and sinage
Seven year old Eva Nolan from Wexford was enjoying her day off from school by helping EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan gain control of a radio controlled tractor at the farm safety demo which is designed to teach children about the no go areas, dangers and sinage

Sticking it to his Labour successor, while showing that real-world self-awareness which made Irish Water the much-loved triumph that it is, Mr Hogan said of the utility: “Well, firstly, I don’t agree it was a mess, and, secondly, I introduced what was required under the troika, and you’ll have to ask the Minister for the Environment, Mr Kelly, for the rest.”

Well, firstly, it is a total mess, and, secondly, it is a bit late to start hiding behind the Troika, when water-taxing has been official Fine Gael policy since 2009. But, then, this is the same lucky-touch man who, while in Cabinet, threatened to cut water supplies down to a “trickle” for households that would not, or could not, pay the tax, before Alan Kelly panicked and tried to clean up the mess by offering people a €100 quid bribe to register with Irish Water, whether they actually paid the bills or not.

Mr Hogan also displayed a worrying lack of reality when he dismissed complaints about Irish Water wasting €50m on outside consultants.

His flippant line was “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs,” before going on to announce he was not a micro-manager and “I’m actually an ordinary human being, like most people,” presumably in case we had mistaken him for some form of living deity.

With another arrogant shrug of the shoulders, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the Web Summit that pumps €175m into Dublin would “not be missed” , after organisers announced they were heading off to sunny Lisbon, instead.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

The change of venue was hardly surprising, as wi-fi at the event was as bad as it is in rural Ireland (kind of a big thing to get wrong at a web summit). Dublin resembled a developing world city, as CEOs from some of the globe’s richest, and most cutting-edge, companies could not get a shower because of water shortages.

But what was surprising was that, due to a lack of interest, the Government thought nothing of losing such a lucrative and prestigious showcase for the country.

After expressing confidence in itself during a pointless Dáil debate, the Government now hopes a relatively generous Budget will lessen the vengeful wrath of voters.

But that little electoral mountain has now been made that bit harder to climb by Dara’s garda-guided dash to Dublin.

While Mr Kenny & Co have long been found guilty of arrogance, Mr Murphy also now stands accused, in the court of public opinion, of wasting police time.


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