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The Nerd Machine via YouTube
third degree burns

Geeks, parasites, and your mother: The 12 most explosive insults of 2015

That looks SORE.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE a well-timed, well-phrased insult to get the blood going – and we had plenty of them in 2015.

Here are some of the best fire-breathing moments of the year:

1 January – ‘Cu*t Politics’

The Irish political year started hot, setting the tone for the subsequent 12 months, with a spat between two leading figures from Fine Gael and Sinn Féin.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan mused on Twitter that 2015 would present voters with a choice between “Constitutional politics” and “Cult politics.”

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn didn’t take kindly to this, and responded with a photo of the Blueshirts, adding “Hopefully cult politics doesn’t make a comeback.”

Another Twitter user suggested that Flanagan’s original tweet about “cult politics” included a crucial misspelling.

The minister agreed.

flanagantweet Charlie Flanagan Charlie Flanagan

21 January – ‘Time for revision’

Fresh from the Christmas holidays, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams sleepwalked into a bonfire with his now infamous statement, “I’m not great at maths.

He was making a point, of course, about speaking time during leaders’ questions, but that didn’t stop Fine Gael seizing on it, and adding “We can confirm Gerry Adams is telling the truth…”

To make matters worse, the Louth TD followed that up with a gaffe on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live a few days later, when he said getting rid of property tax would cost €5 million, instead of €500 million.

Which led to this supremely patronising, but actually-quite-good putdown on Twitter.

23 January – ‘Midget parasite’

As they did in 2014, water charges caused huge controversy and provoked mass protests this year.

But the movement to abolish the charges suffered something of a setback in January, when one of its organisers, Derek Byrne, was heard at a protest calling President Michael D Higgins a “little midget parasite” and “little sellout parasite.”

Byrne first apologised for using the word “midget” before reversing his position and vowing not to retract or apologise for his insults.

RteiracerUsnews / YouTube

26 March – ‘A North London geek’

In the build-up to May’s general election in the UK, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband got “The Treatment” from Jeremy Paxman.

But the notorious veteran political journalist was accused of going too far, when he grilled Miliband on his reputation as a nerd, and suggested people wish he had been defeated for the party leadership by his brother, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Paxman put it to him that people “see you as a North London geek.” Amid groans of protest from the audience, he added:

A lot of people, when they look at your candidacy for the most powerful job in the land, they look at you and they think, ‘What a shame it’s not his brother.’

Sky News / YouTube

13 May – ‘Toddle along’

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy famously had a hard time getting basic information on water charges this year, and confronted Taoiseach Enda Kenny one day in May, asking him how many people had failed to pay water charges.

Kenny did not answer, but instead aimed some personal remarks at Murphy, one of the youngest members of Dáil Éireann, telling him to “toddle along” to a presentation by Irish Water, and saying “I’m not going to spoon-feed you.”

The Taoiseach’s insults caused an uproar, and ultimately led to the house being suspended twice in a row.

Video / YouTube

2 June – ‘These are people who can’t grow potatoes’

Soon after all the positive global attention for Ireland following May’s vote to legalise same-sex marriage, we were dragged into a row on the other side of the planet, and not cast in a particularly pleasant light.

Several Australian politicians responded to the Irish referendum by proposing a bill to follow our lead in Australia.

During a TV debate on the subject, conservative political commentator Grahame Morris rubbished the plans, and questioned what Australia had to learn from Ireland anyway:

The trigger was a vote in Ireland. Now I love the Irish, half the parliament is full of Irishmen but these are people who can’t grow potatoes, they’ve got a mutant lawn weed as their national symbol and they can’t verbalise the difference between a tree and the number three.
And then all of a sudden, Australia has to follow suit.


Campaigns and Communications Group / YouTube

11 June – ‘Maybe you got out of the wrong side of the bed today’

Probably the most heated Irish political rivalry of 2015 was between Joan and Mary Lou, who clashed repeatedly throughout the year.

None moreso than this exchange, however, from Leaders’ Questions one Thursday afternoon in June.

In response to a question about taking water charges from wages and welfare payments, the Tánaiste offered a response, adding: “I think that’s been made clear to you on quite a significant number of occasions.”

To which Sinn Féin’s Deputy Leader replied: “Sarcasm doesn’t suit you. Just giving you that by way of a pointer.”

Cue groans of opprobrium from government benches, and this smiling retort from Burton:

It feels at times like maybe you got out of the wrong side of the bed today, because I know sometimes you’re a bit tough. But usually a little bit more pleasant.

Video / YouTube

8 July – ‘I wanted to call him much worse’

Rory McIlroy may have been the world’s Number One golfer for much of 2015, but that didn’t prevent one American TV presenter from giving him a high-profile (albeit slightly lazy) verbal battering.

“He’s a leprechaun – I can’t stand him,” Fox News anchor Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery blurted, off mic, during a segment on the show Outnumbered.

LiveLeak New Video / YouTube

Not bad. But after two days of going viral, and calls for her to be fired (“for racially charged” language), she went further.

…I am not a fan of Rory, mostly for the way he treated tennis great Caroline Wozniacki, and discarded her like a piece of chewed gum when he broke her heart and broke off their engagement in a short phone conversation.
I called Rory McIlroy a leprechaun, and believe me – I wanted to call him much worse.

11 July – The oldest insult in the book

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston appeared at the Comic Con festival in San Diego this summer, and faced a barrage of questions from adoring fans.

One of them, from Albuquerque, New Mexico (where the show was set and filmed), nervously asked which of the city’s many fine social and cultural offerings Cranston had enjoyed while he was there.

The actor’s response was a masterclass in timing, economy of language, how to read a room, and an absolute, old-school third degree burn:

The Nerd Machine / YouTube

10 September – ‘Go f**k yourselves’

A right-wing “Tea Party Patriots” event in Washington DC featured Republican presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump walking on stage to REM’s 1987 hit song It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

In response, the band’s famously left-leaning members expressed their displeasure, not least lead singer Michael Stipe, who let rip against conservative politicians using REM’s music at their public events.

Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you – you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men.
Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.

21 September – ‘West Brits’

On the evening of Ireland’s victorious Rugby World Cup opener against Canada, Sinn Féin Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha got involved in a Facebook discussion about the use of Ireland’s Call as the national rugby anthem.

One commenter said “The correct thing to do is play the proper national anthem until another is agreed…”

Another added, “More like Political Incorrectness, a sop to the Planters.”

Mac Donncha, who’s running for Sinn Féin for a Dáil seat in Dublin North-East, concluded that those who run Irish rugby are “West Brits.”


The insult sparked a controversy in the following days, with one Fine Gael councillor calling it “petty sniping.”

Mac Donncha defended his comments, however, saying they reflected the “attitude of a lot of people.”

19 November – ‘Really? Gmail?’

There’s nothing more annoying than grammar snarking, but once in a while, it’s the best, most satisfying response.

The Russian news website Izvestia – which is very friendly to the regime of President Vladimir Putin – publishes what it claims is a leaked letter from the US Department of State.

The letter is addressed to an LGBT rights group in Russia, and appears to suggest that the Americans are directing the campaign against anti-gay laws in the country.

It is also riddled with basic spelling and grammatical errors, which makes it almost certain to be inauthentic.

The US Embassy in Moscow didn’t miss a beat, and tweeted this corrected version of the letter to Izvestia, complete with the wonderfully patronising message:

Next time you publish fake letters, please send them to us. We will be glad to help correct mistakes.

Read: 10 of the most epic burns the world has ever seen>

Read: The year of burning deeply – 15 insults that made us wince in 2014>

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