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COMMENT: Maybe the Dáil isn’t so bad after all

Monday, 9th September, 2019 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: Maybe the Dáil isn’t so bad after all

Boris Johnson has had a controversial start to his tenure as UK Prime Minister. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

COMMENT: Maybe the Dáil isn’t so bad after all

Boris Johnson has had a controversial start to his tenure as UK Prime Minister. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

WITH the whole Brexit business plumbing new depths of farce on a daily, if not hourly, basis, the shenanigans in Westminster almost make our own political system seem civilised by comparison.

We may have had our fair share of pantomime villains in the Dáil over the years but it’s safe to say that none of them comes close to boorish Boris and his pompous band of weasels. They were possibly best described by the actor Hugh Grant in an unrepeatable but highly entertaining tweet.

It is truly frightening to realise that our small country has two narcissistic megalomaniacs calling the shots on either side of us. On one hand we have a US President who has such limited vocabulary that he has to repeat the few words he knows after every sentence.

Boris is loquacious and, as a former journalist, has a colourful turn of phrase. But he is proof positive that while a good education can make you intelligent, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re clever.

Compared with the UK Parliament, the Dáil seems like a beacon of modern democracy, even if it’s half empty (or half full, to put a positive spin on it) a lot of the time when matters of national importance are being debated.

It’s a place that welcomes diversity, probably best exemplified by a lax dress code, where tweed caps sit comfortably with pinstriped suits and pink polo shirts.

While we still have some way to go in many areas, such as increasing the number of women involved in politics, Ireland is now widely perceived as a progressive country, with cross-party support for marriage equality and the modernisation of our controversial abortion laws.

The Dáil is far from perfect, of course, and has had its own moments of madness over the years. Boris may have called Jeremy Corbyn “a chlorinated chicken” and a “big girl’s blouse” but we’re no stranger to unparliamentary language and questionable behaviour ourselves. Take a bow Paul Gogarty, the former Green Party TD whose foul-mouthed rant at Emmet Stagg made him a YouTube sensation; then we had Independent TD Mick Wallace’s juvenile ‘Miss Piggy’ jibe at a female TD; and, of course, there was the infamous ‘Lapgate’ controversy.

But when contrasted with ongoing political events across the water, perhaps Dáil Éireann is not such a bad place after all.

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