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'Bring it on, baby!': The best Irish burns of 2017

Mudslinging in the Dáil and fighting the haters…

WHETHER THINKING OF it on your feet, or spending 20 minutes thinking of a clever Tweet, a good burn is a good burn.

Politicians take any opportunity for a bit of mudslinging at the opposition so it has to be a good one to stand out while, outside the media, we had several instances of getting a verbal few digs in over the course of the year.

Hera are some of the best burns in Irish life in 2017:

“Tiocfaidh ár la-de-da”

Gerry Adams raised more than a few eyebrows in the Dáil in October when he was making an analogy on senior citizens losing out on €30 a week under government cuts.

He attacked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “Does he accept that these people are entitled to a full pension? Does he accept that they cannot afford the cut? Thirty euro is a bottle of wine or some such little ornamentation for members of the Cabinet…”

“Where do you buy your wine?” shouted Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen, almost immediately.

Varadkar jumped on it too, saying: “Eh, it’s some bottle of wine that costs €30.”

But the best burn for Adams’ comment came from Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who posted this to Twitter.

Haters gonna hate

At the end of October, Ibrahim Halawa arrived home to Ireland after four years in an Egyptian prison.

He received a rapturous reception at Dublin Airport, with family and friends turning up to give him a warm welcome.

Addressing a media scrum in the arrivals hall, Halawa thanked people who had supported him, but also had a pointed statement for those who hadn’t.

He said: “I’d imagined this moment.The Irish people have been sending me letters and people from around the world – it’s great. I’m very happy, it’s great.

I really want to thank the haters [too]. They made me stronger, to come and be ready for everything.

Letting rip

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

This year wasn’t a good year for the reputation of the Irish banking sector. The tracker mortgage scandal loomed large and many politicians lined up to criticise the banks but perhaps none did so more forcefully than Senator David Norris.

“I find it astonishing that an Irish Republic stand over evictions,” he said, adding that vulture funds were invited in to pick ”up the slack” for “vulgar profiteering”.

I don’t understand how the bloody vulture funds got into his country in the first place… how anyone can say they are good idea, because they cleaned up corpses – how could anyone make such a gaffe.

“What we are talking about is the corpses of  the well-being of the Irish people. We are dealing with human people, with human misery. When I look at the ECB (European Central Bank) I have to say, it makes me grimace.

It’s like forcing the Jews to pay for their own execution… With regards the banks – they have learned nothing. They are precisely the same as they were before the crisis… People put under financial terror have taken the step to take their own lives.

VinB burn

Vincent Browne had his last show on TV3 in July, and got a very warm send off.

On his penultimate show, however, he had Taoiseach Leo Varadkar come in.

In one exchange, Varadkar said that he represents a middle class that is in a large majority in Ireland, but quickly switched between 70% and 60% as he sought to redefine the group.

“Over 70% of people describe themselves as middle class,” Varadkar said.

“Where did you come across that?” Browne shot back.

“It’s a standard statistic, if you ask people,” the Taoiseach replied. “For example, you asked about the phrase “getting up early in the morning”. When we asked people in polls – after I used that term – over 60% of people identified as being in that group.

I’m very much talking about people on lower pay too. They’d be very much part of the group I’m talking to.

“People on low pay are not middle class,” Browne said, in his usual manner.

He also got a sly dig in at the Taoiseach’s now well-known phrase of representing people who “get up early in the morning”.

Browne put it to Varadkar that he “didn’t have a reputation” for getting up early in the morning when he started in the Dáil.

Love and marriage

1 Noirin_90515491 Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Nóirín O’Sullivan had a tough year.

Faced with months of more scandals in An Garda Síochana, from fake breath tests, financial irregularities at Templemore and the Disclosures Tribunal, she gave up the reins as Commissioner in September.

Time and again, she came before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to face scrutiny over these and various other issues.

In March, it was the phantom breath tests that O’Sullivan and colleagues were called to answer for.

It’s fair to say that the committee members weren’t satisfied with the answers given. Time and again, she and her colleagues talked of “collective responsibility”, a “major programme of reform” and “administrative error[s]“.

That promoted this response from Independents4Change TD Clare Daly:

[I feel] like the parent who finds the child with the biscuit jar and chocolate all over his mouth, sitting there saying, ‘it wasn’t me’.

Adding on to that, Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway said this to sum up whether O’Sullivan could restore the public’s confidence: “If you do, you will have put Lazarus in the ha’penny place”.

Old wounds

90228932_90228932 Happier times Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Alan Shatter may be long gone from the Fine Gael front bench, but he managed to hit the headlines again this year when a Court of Appeal ruled that the “seriously damaging” conclusions of him in the Guerin report were reached “in breach of fair procedures”.

He’s published a book since then and, judging by this recent Hot Press interview, takes a dim view of his former Cabinet colleague and now Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

When asked about Varadkar and the Eighth Amendment, Shatter had this to say:

I think, from my experience, Leo’s main focus in politics is self promotion. Leo would adopt whatever view he thinks will benefit his own self-promotion… But I’m sure when he’s tested the opinion polls, and having worked out what might result in some level of both media and public applause, he’ll then declare what his view is.
I think he’ll make the decision based on his best interests – not necessarily on women’s best interests.

Rural matters

In February, Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae brought a matter of importance to his local constituency to a fairly empty Dáil.

“The rhododendrons are taking over completely,” he said, referring to the problem with the plants in Killarney National Park.

The park there was deserving of protecting, Healy-Rae said.

We all know Killarney is not the tourism capital of Kerry, or of Ireland, or of Europe. But it is the tourist capital of the world. I want that on record of the house. There is no place better than Killarney, or its National Park.

He sought help from Minister Michael Ring to increase resources to help fight the rhododendrons.

Ring said resources would indeed be committed, but not before getting his two cents in on another matter.

Mayo TD Ring began by “disagreeing completely” with the Kerryman, saying that the best place in Ireland, and Europe, and the world was a place called Westport.

Football men

90131974_90131974 Source: James Horan/Rollingnews.ie

Last year, we had venerable football men John Giles and Eamon Dunphy take a cheeky swipe at the Second Captains, with Ken Early in their crosshairs.

Through their now daily podcasts, the Second Captains regularly draw attention to the fact that Giles said he “would necessarily agree with anything Ken Early says about football”, but it was Dunphy who got the digs in this year.

Speaking to RTÉ 2FM’s Game On in September, Dunphy took exception to a piece Early had written in the Irish Times defending Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Although quite respectful of Early as a whole, he did squeeze in this gem:

I really admire him and they know that because I did programmes with them and I don’t want to put them down but they seem to want to prove that you don’t need to know anything about football to write about it.

He also challenged Early to debate him in front of a live audience, declaring “bring it on, baby!”. This tete-a-tete has yet to materialise just yet.

Read: Obedience, witchcraft and jail time: the best Irish burns of 2016

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Sean Murray

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