John McGuirk  – Gript News

In the midst of terrible unemployment news, and rising death tolls, and a shortage of testing, and a shortage of protective equipment, and general awfulness, it’s actually a relief to know that some things are as stupid as they normally are.

Here’s the latest row, courtesy of Virgin Media’s Gav Reilly, who really does an admirable job keeping a straight face while reporting on this stuff:

Basically, they were due to sit today, and then Fine Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan decided to be the best boy in the class. Here he is, just informing the public of his position, and in no way trying to appear like Ireland’s most responsible politician:

That, of course, provoked a good old fashioned row, from the socialists in particular, who are horrified – horrified – that they might not get a chance to hold the Government to account, presumably by demanding that more money is spent on something popular:

What’s strange about this, of course, is that they’re perfectly able to hold the Government to account and raise the issues they want to raise by doing exactly what they’re doing. You can be certain now that tonight’s news will feature Richard Boyd Barrett talking about the evils of private hospitals, or whatever, which is probably actually more effective than asking the question in the Dáil, where hardly anyone will be watching.

But the row, of course, is the point. Here’s Fine Gael’s Jennifer Carroll MacNeil, who’s rapidly turning into that party’s most effective operator:

My Dún Laoghaire colleague RBB insists that Dáil sit today to have statements. Meaning he & I have to come in from DL putting ourselves, our families and communities at risk. So he can be on the news? It’s ridiculous and dangerous & completely contrary to public health protection

— Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD (@CarrollJennifer) April 2, 2020

She’s right there. It is all about getting on the news. She won’t, but Boyd Barrett will.

But at the same time, the whole proposal to cancel the sitting is about the exact same thing. Her party colleague O’Donovan will probably make the news too, looking sombre and saying “it’s the responsible thing to do” – even though fifteen people sitting in the Dáil chamber is hardly going to make or break the national battle against Coronavirus.

Boyd Barrett will be on the news claiming that the institutions of democracy must prevail.

Probably, the Greens will be on the news claiming that the vital issue of providing enough salad to Siberian Wolves is not getting enough attention.

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