Back in the 1950s the author and playwright Brendan Behan famously dismissed the average scion of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, the old colonial aristocracy, as a “Protestant on a horse”. In a similar vein one could easily dismiss the membership of Fine Gael as a “politician on a high horse”. No one in Ireland can quite pontificate like the self-styled party of political and fiscal probity. The problem with all that galloping around on the moral high ground is that one tends to come a cropper every now and again. Which was certainly the fate that befell Leo Varadkar when Mary Lou McDonald tackled him yesterday in Dáil Éireann on the issue of continued state payments to employees laid off because of the Covid-19 emergency. From the Irish News:
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has clashed with Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald after he accused her of being “two-faced”.
Ms McDonald warned Mr Varadkar against stopping Covid-19 payments after he confirmed the pandemic payments will continue beyond June but cannot last forever.
Mr Varadkar said: “I am sorry that deputy McDonald chose to become so party political in her contributions because what she said was so two-faced and so fundamentally dishonest.
“Sinn Fein ministers are on their Facebook site promoting the fact that they hand out food parcels to the poor, reminiscent to me of Donald Trump handing out toilet roll after the hurricane hit the islands in the Caribbean.”
Unfortunately for the Fine Gael leader just twenty-four hours earlier his own Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, was appearing in online photos delivering food parcels to his constituents in Ranelagh, a former suburb of the city now associated with the Irish version of property-driven gentrification. Which somewhat undermined Varadkar’s haughty claim that his party does not “…post on Facebook pictures of our ministers handing out food to the poor.”