By Eoin Molloy
In early March, a set of missing Dail’s headphones caused havoc during an Irish edition of Leaders’ Questions.
Independent TD, Mick Wallace (of Torino jersey wearing fame), provocatively asked whether or not an Taoiseach Enda Kenny would shake the hand of serial human rights abuser and leader of the free world, Barack Obama.
The question was in relation to Obama’s controversial support for the drone programme, which has resulted in the deaths of over 1100 innocents according to some reports.
Kenny proceeded to answer in Irish, neglecting the fact that Wallace’s translator headphones had been misplaced.
Worse still, Kenny completely side-stepped the question and used the opportunity of the misplaced headphones to bully Wallace.
He condescendingly informed Wallace that Irish is our national language (in case he didn’t know). This kind of smug bullying would have been unacceptable in a schoolyard, let alone a national parliament.
This is not the first time the darker side of Enda Kenny’s personality has surfaced. Back in 2002, he was accused of racism for referring to the assassinated PM of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, as a ‘ni**er’ in a so-called joke.
Not only is this a critical mis-step of a man who is overly comfortable in his position, it also betrays An Taoiseach’s self-contradicting side.
Back in October 2014, An Taoiseach congratulated a Westport Gaelscoil on being the first school to hoist a blue anti-bullying flag. This hypocrisy is again indicative of a man who believes himself to be superior.
It may not seem like there was much to the incident to some, but in my opinion a Taoiseach should lead by example. All Dail members have the right to decency, and not to be publicly humiliated. This whole saga is reminiscent of the Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan ‘clothing’ controversy.
It is unbecoming and embarrassing for a sitting Taoiseach to engage in bullying in our national parliament, especially when it is directed towards an Independent TD who poses no direct threat to Kenny’s position or reputation.