The country stood by today as our leader Enda Kenny addressed the nation – only the sixth time in history that a Taoiseach has done such a thing. His speech left but one question on lips across the country.
What the hell was that for?
The speech contained much that would have been bad news, if it had been news. It was depressing, sure, but confusingly it did not contain the really awful tidings that would have justified its existence. So it’s pretty much as we expected.
No mention of any welfare rates being further cut, but no mention of them not being cut either. So expect that.
Direct taxes will not be raised, but indirect will. In other words, money will be extracted not just from those who have it, but rich and poor alike. Or as Enda put it:
“I wish I could tell you budget won’t impact on citizens in need, but it will.”
It seems the poor and sick aren’t actually going to be rounded up and shot though. Presumably they’re dying off at a rate sufficient to give markets confidence in our government’s international-finance-friendly ruthlessness.
The highlight I think was when he told us that the economic collapse was not our fault, even if we were all going to have to pay for it. Nice of him to mention that I suppose. We did know though.
Newspapers, never call yourself a ‘paper of record’. Every silly mistake you make then becomes a silly mistake, of record. It’s extra fun when an institution as grand as the New York Times decides that Enda Kenny’s name is wrong and corrects it. And his gender, while they’re at it. Couldn’t they employ a competent sub-editor from Estonia or somewhere?
Mind you, a certain paper I used to work for (ahem) made a similar mistake with my copy once. Or rather, the opposite mistake. At the time there were rumours about a certain Fianna Fáil politician receiving a payment of over a million from a certain businessman. We all knew who it was, but libel laws prevented us from saying. So I decided to refer to him as ‘Edna’, which I considered the least likely possible name for a TD – especially a male one.
My sub-editor happily ‘corrected’ this to Enda – three times – changing the deliberately strange into the merely confusing, and making it look like I was impugning the reputation of the man who is our Taoiseach now. Ironic, considering his promise yesterday.
But why am I telling you about it? Thanks to the magic of the Internet, here it is. From December 1996.
Knew I should have gone with Ethel.
Speaking of wealthy businesspersons, in the news this morning we learn that there are now five people in Ireland who have made the Forbes list of dollar billionaires. To think, only a few years ago I would have felt quite proud of that fact. Now I just want to see their tax clearance certs.
Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Look, I wish Enda Kenny well as Taoiseach. He has an unenviable job, I hope he does it well, I have more confidence in his ability to do it than I have in… Ooh, loads of other people. So to be fair I have to say that some really good promises were made today. Particularly, a ban on corporate political donations. I also like single-tier health very much, and a Minister for Children may be a good idea even if it does sound odd.
But he needs to be able to give a speech that doesn’t make me wince like I’m listening to a gas cylinder being whacked with a jack handle. He must get a professional speech writer. I know he doesn’t have one, because no paid writer could be that bad. Please to God.
“The long Hibernian nights on the western edge of Europe” he intoned, alluding to… something, I’m not sure. I was too distracted by the apparent implication that nights get longer the further west you go, by trying to figure out what exactly makes a night Hibernian, and by wondering if I was taking him up wrong entirely and the Long Hibernian Knights were a 70s heavy rock band. Imagery was strewn around the speech like low coffee tables, adding little decorative or useful, mainly just impeding progress.
And then bills or tax demands or something hitting people’s doormats “like stealth bombs”. What the fuck might a stealth bomb be? Enda there are stealth bombers, which are planes that are hard to spot, and there are smart bombs, which can be guided to their targets. Stealth bombs would be bombs that you don’t notice.
No seriously, I’m not listening to five years of this.
The first day started by sounding depressingly like a school debating competition, but it warmed up when some of the more left-wing speakers joined in – particularly Shane Ross. We need these people in opposition so they can say all those crazy extremist anti-establishment things that the government parties said when they were running for election.
Seriously, this is dragging democracy into disrepute.