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Bertie more interested in 'hanging baskets and flower pots' than the safe exploitation of the Corrib gas field

Thursday, November 23, 2006
Irish Times
Four protesting deputies stalled at Bertie's blockade
Dáil Sketch: Independent deputies and Enemies of the State Joe Higgins, Séamus Healy, Tony Gregory and Jerry Cowley are holding an early-morning press conference on the side of a country road in Mayo. They have just been on a protest march to the site of Shell's controversial gas pipeline, writes Miriam Lord.
The four TDs stand together, the very picture of thuggery, while Joe reads a statement in a violent tone of voice.
Deputy Higgins has been known to murder metaphors in cold blood. Deputy Healy is an unrepentant member of Scouting Ireland and wears a moustache. Deputy Gregory possesses a Dublin accent and refuses to wear a tie. Deputy Cowley is a tireless worker for old folk in remote parts of Mayo, many of whom were in the Old IRA.
Gardaí move in.
Faced by such a rogues' gallery of subversives, Garda Intelligence has the ideal opportunity to gather vital information. Two brave uniformed officers go as close as they can to the dangerous Dáil deputies and silently film their every move and utterance. What they intend to do with the material they gather is a closely guarded secret, although security sources believe it may be used to train Army bombast disposal experts.
The incident unnerved Joe Higgins, not to mention his three fellow travellers.
When they returned to their Leinster House bolt-hole, they wrote protest letters to the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice, complaining of unprecedented intrusive actions by gardaí against members of the Oireachtas carrying out their "representational functions". They got no joy.
So yesterday morning, Joe took his complaint to the floor of the Dáil and told the Taoiseach what happened to him in Bellanaboy on the morning of October 16th.
He got no joy from the Taoiseach either, who didn't seem in the slightest bit concerned.
"If you were meeting with a cumann of Fianna Fáil in north Mayo, do you think members of An Garda Síochána would barge in with video cameras?" asked Joe, as FF backbenchers giggled. Given the party in-fighting that has occurred in that county over recent years, gardaí bursting in with stun guns might be a more likely scenario.
"I respect the right of people to protest, but I'm strongly of the view that workers have a right to go to work unimpeded," the Taoiseach told Deputy Higgins, avoiding any mention of video nasties.
(Joe told us later in the day that there was no blockade on the morning the Independent deputies visited Bellanaboy and were filmed by gardaí.)
Bertie wasn't willing to entertain his request for public hearings on the pipeline question. "Sometimes there's an end position in a case, and I think that was reached a long time ago," he said.
Realising that he wasn't going to get anywhere with talk of a community divide in Mayo, Joe decided to appeal to Bertie's ego. "Think of your own legacy," he urged, reminding the Taoiseach of his expressed desire to be doing nothing more onerous than hanging out his flower baskets in a few years' time.
Would he like to be responsible for overseeing the destruction of a pristine Mayo landscape?
"All is I would say to Deputy Higgins - who rightly said that I hope some day to get to a position of looking after my baskets and flower pots - is I hope that the horticulture industry in this country will then have the benefit of the gas from Bellanaboy."
And then the hanging gardens of Drumcondra will be a joy to behold.

Posted Date: 
23 November 2006 - 6:18pm