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Why were people suddenly asking questions about a political figure's knee? David Jones/PA Wire
One Year In

12 random items that convulsed Irish politics this past year

Septic tanks, dry-cleaning receipts and Michael D’s knees – just some of the strange things we never thought we’d obsess about in a political context… but we do now.

IF A WEEK is a long time in politics, try a year.

Today marks a year to the day since Fine Gael and Labour took their seats in the 31st Dáil. We’ve marked the occasion here at with a detailed report card on how the Government performed in 20 policy areas. We’ve also:

In the course of our analysis, we realised that this past year in politics has thrown up some strange anomalies. Here are 12 things we didn’t think about much 12 months ago… but we do now:

12 random items that convulsed Irish politics this past year
1 / 12
  • Septic tanks

    Tom Wallace from Connemara with his artist's impression of a septic tank at a protest in January 2012 on the proposed inspection fee - some argued it was an attack on rural householders. (Pic: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
  • Dirty laundry... literally

    It emerged in November - just before the austerity of Budget 2012 - that Government ministers can claim €3,500 off their tax bill to cover the cost of laundry, presuming they live away from home during the week. (Pic: puamelia/Flickr)
  • Oireachtas telephones...

    ...or rather, what they are used for. They came into the spotlight when it emerged that over 3,500 calls (€2,639 worth) were made from a telephone in the Oireachtas in 2007 to vote for independent TD Michael Healy Rae when he was in a reality television competition. He won the contest. (Pic: plenty.r/Flickr)
  • President Higgins's left knee

    During a presidential campaign riven with mud-slinging, the only real question hanging over the eventual winner Michael D Higgins were enquiries as to his age and health. A broken kneecap which required surgery after the election had given him some difficulty but otherwise, the President has been in fine fettle since. (Pic: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland).
  • A copy of the Irish Constitution

    Dana Rosemary Scallon was rarely without one in the presidential debates last autumn, vowing to uphold its contents. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • The Secretary General of the Department of Finance

    Okay, so not an 'item' per se, but did we worry much about who this person was (Kevin Cardiff) before the €3.6bn accounting blunder in the Irish national debt books was discovered last November? We do now. (Pic: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
  • Printer ink cartridges

    It emerged late last month that Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh had gone through over €50,000 worth of print cartridges in just two years at the Dáil. Some wags suggested he was bringing down the toner in Leinster House. (Pic: Tosiyuki IMAI/Flickr)
  • Bins, bin bags, bin tags

    The transfer of waste services from Dublin councils to private company Greyhound caused confusion and consternation over a €100 service fee. The situation has been called "shambolic" by city TDs. (Pic: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)
  • The price of a photo opp

    The Government spent over €100,000 on official photography in its first year in office. The Department of the Taoiseach spent most (€30,629) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform spent nothing on snaps. (Pic: cogdogblog/Flickr)
  • Dress code

    We never thought much about what politicians wore until the 31st Dáíl where some Oireachtas officials took issue with the 'casual' dress code of some TDs; where Mary Mitchell O'Connor was the subject of ungallant commentary from Mick Wallace; and where Ming Flanagan wore a suit made of hemp (not this one). (Pic Julien Behal/PA Wire)
  • Official/unofficial Twitter accounts

    This is the tweet from the OFFICIAL Martin McGuinness presidential campaign account, denying links to an earlier tweet about Seán Gallagher and a Fianna Fáil fundraiser from an account called @McGuinness4Pres which was read out on an RTÉ Frontline #aras11 candidates' debate. And we're still talking about it.
  • Promissory notes

    This time last year we were talking bailouts, bondholders and the euro - we're still talking about those but now 'promissory notes' and the political potential to trade a cut to the cost of Anglo Irish ones is a national obsession. (Pic: Images_of_money/

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