Dáil Sketch: Party political broadcasts mark Dáil’s dying days

Long weekend for TDs as they await Enda Kenny’s visit to the Park

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald thought she saw a wake in the dying days of the 31st Dáil. And she blamed Tánaiste Joan Burton.

It was very likely the last High Noon in the House before the election and time for a party political broadcast on behalf of Sinn Féin.

Addressing Burton at Opposition Leaders’ Questions, McDonald noted the election was fast approaching.

"Once again, the Labour Party is throwing around election promises like confetti at a wake,'' she said. "Does the Tánaiste really believe that people have short memories?''


“That would be a Sinn Féin wedding,’’ replied Burton.

McDonald produced a copy of Labour's 2011 Tesco-style election advertisement which warned about the level of taxes that would be imposed by Fine Gael if it made it to government on its own.

She listed out Labour promises of five years ago. “It broke its word…it failed to stand up to Frankfurt,’’ she declared. It was time for a party political broadcast on behalf of Labour.

“What the people believe is that there are 135,000 more people at work now,’’ said Burton. Addressing Sinn Féin, she said it had voted for the bank guarantee, recalling it as “a footnote in history’’.

Burton insisted voters were aware Ireland was now in a dynamic recovery mode. "It starts with people going back to work,'' she said.

"What about the health service and the housing problem?'' asked Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellis.

Burton noted she was very happy to restore the Christmas bonus which Fianna Fáil had abolished in 2009. The Soldiers of Destiny watched in glum silence.

"Hear, hear,'' said Fine Gael's Bernard Durkan, the Tesco-esque election advert, which annoyed his party at the time, clearly a distant memory.

Burton conceded social welfare increases had been modest, but it was important to prioritise people such as pensioners. McDonald insisted the recovery had not visited the vast majority of communities and families.

Burton said the Government had increased the minimum wage by 50 cent hourly. “Wow!’’ replied McDonald.

“They are the big spenders,’’ said Independent TD Finian McGrath.

Combative mood

Burton was again in combative mood when she spoke later in the debate on the


bank inquiry report, targeting Fianna Fáil. “Deputy Micheál Martin apologised for the many disastrous mistakes Fianna Fáil made in government,’’ she said. “The publication of this report, and the debate today, would be a timely occasion for Deputy Martin and his colleagues to repeat that apology, rather than conveniently develop amnesia.’’

It was time for a party political broadcast on behalf of Fianna Fáil.Timmy Dooley said he accepted the burden of responsibility must rest with those in power at the time of the banking crisis, but the financial thinking was shared by those on the opposition benches. Dooley suggested Burton should consider a "confession'' before facing the electorate. "I will await, I am sure with baited breath, her position on this,'' he added.

"You could do yourself harm,'' advised Labour's Pat Rabbitte. Rabbitte was among those retiring TDs who made farewell speeches in the chamber. They were greeting with applause, praise and expressions of goodwill.

The election campaign is in full swing in the chamber, as TDs await next week's visit to the park by Enda Kenny. It will be a long weekend. And it will be a rough, tough campaign.