AS has become tradition, members of the Irish government will travel to various destinations for Patrick’s Day again this year.
However, with Brexit looming, and issues in health such as the rising cost of the children’s hospital, perhaps Irish interests would be better served if they were to stay at home.
Here I offer some suggestions to just eight of the 36, who are off to every far-flung corner of the world, on where they really should be spending time!
Health Minister Simon Harris:
On a trolley in a busy city A&E department, among at least 20 others on trolleys, all awaiting admission. From this perch, he will see first-hand overworked nurses and doctors dealing with a failing health system.
As the night wears on, he will enjoy the company of drunks over-zealous in drowning the shamrock. These will be abusive, loud, and incoherent and may vomit on the nurses, doctors or even the esteemed Minister propped up on his hard trolley.
As St Patrick’s Day is on a Sunday and Monday is a Bank Holiday, the revelry, and subsequent hospital admissions as a result of excess will continue for four or five nights. He will have plenty of sleepless nights there to reflect on the debacle of the new children’s hospital.
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton:
A nice weekend in west Cork. Here he can visit the site for the proposed plastics factory in Skibbereen and reflect on his portfolio, which includes climate action and the environment. It is hoped the irony of a situation, a proposed factory near the site of a care home, will not be lost on him.
As he travels further west, he will lose 4G mobile coverage and discover broadband is not available. Oh, and yes, realise that communications and the national roll out of broadband is also part of his portfolio.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy:
Live life as a rough sleeper on the streets of Dublin for the duration of the weekend. The weather is terrible and no matter what he does, he can’t get warm. At first people are kind and throw him the odd couple of euro. One person even buys him coffee but it has milk and sugar in it, which he hates.
As the St Patrick’s Day paddywhackery continues, drunks, high on the holiday excesses, kick and mock him. Towards dawn, someone urinates on him and berates him for his poor life choices that result in his homelessness.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross:
Takes a train to Tralee, which runs late. When he arrives in Tralee, there are no other public transport options to take him further into north Kerry. There are no taxis available. He is surrounded by drunken revellers pouring out of the pubs and feels quite scared.
He was to be on the reviewing stand for the parade and to attend a local football match. The happy crowd throng around the forlorn figure sloped against the wall, backpack at his feet. They’ve no idea who he is and care less.
Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation Heather Humpreys:
Any Technology Park in Ireland. Here she will notice the workers are not off enjoying the parade or getting inebriated. Instead, they are all working hard at putting plans in place for their various enterprises to survive a no deal Brexit.
She will go from building to building in the park without offering any practical business enterprise or innovation advice. Though these are all her responsibility, in the face of Brexit she has nothing to offer.
Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone:
To a piece of waste ground behind a housing estate in any medium-sized rural Irish town. Here, the disaffected youth, for whom St Patrick’s Day means nothing more than a day off school, share cheap alcohol and dope. They shove, push, and scuffle each other.
By dark, they will decide to go on a rampage through the town, wrecking hanging baskets and window boxes, erected by The Tidy Towns. They may even steal a few just for sheer fun.
The town elders have been campaigning for funding for a MUGA (multi use games area) and a youth café for years. As they charge past the Minister, one youth flings part of an up rooted primula, which ruins her beautiful coiffure.
Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh:
Spend the day herding a group of senior infants.
First, they assemble in a prefab, as they have no proper classroom. Then, they wait for hours for the parade to get under way.
There are 40 charges in his control as class sizes are far too big. Some of the children get bored; others cry and want to go home.
He gets so cold and stressed, at giving up his day off while his mates are down the pub, that he too feels like crying and wants to go home.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed:
He will visit Killybegs and Castletownbere. The weather will be atrocious. Nevertheless, the fishermen are on their boats in the freezing harbours carrying out maintenance and upkeep of their vessels. He will learn first-hand that fish quotas are not working.
When the farmers hear he is in town, they come to challenge him about finding new food markets for their agriculture produce.
They demand he begins a strong campaign to counter the vegan revolution, which will put meat and dairy out of business.