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Sunday 23 December 2012

My alternative Christmas list

I aspire annually to cleanse our little island of its most annoying inhabitants but am sadly handicapped in writing about those I would like to cite because of our restrictive libel and privacy laws.

Which is why I'd like to banish all those politicians who have dragged their feet over libel reform and all lawyers who gleefully take advantage of them to stop honest hacks telling truths.

The Oireachtas will be pretty empty, since I'm also expelling all politicians who are gazing in the other direction as impoverished citizens beg them to show some shame and cut their pay, pensions and perks. Free iPads indeed!

But just in case they cunningly escape the cull, I'm naming four who should be at the head of the line: Gerry Adams, Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Aengus O Snodaigh.

No year can go by without the expulsion of Adams, who always manages to sneak back from the desert island I have him sharing with the Reverend Ian Paisley. Both being malign influences on several generations, they deserve a lifetime together boring and patronising each other.

Gilmore goes because of the speech he made in Brussels recently, embracing the idea that the EU should have a bigger role in such foreign policy issues as peacekeeping, conflict resolution and post-conflict resolution through the expensive and useless joke that is the European External Action Service (EEAS). That he did so with a straight face while Northern Ireland is riot-torn because of republican provocation and loyalist nihilism massively compounds his offence. And with him as advisers can go a peace-industry that has DUP MPs like Jeffrey Donaldson, who helped wreck centrist unionism, and the unrepentant Old Bailey bomber, Gerry Kelly, flying hither and thither lecturing hapless foreigners.

Rabbitte gets the exclusion order for pointing out when accused of making what proved to be a reckless promise about maintaining child benefit: "Isn't that what you tend to do during an election?" His honesty was more than outweighed by his stoking of the raging fires of public cynicism about politicians.

'Wolfe Toner' Aengus O Snodaigh, of course, should have gone as soon as it emerged that he'd claimed more than €50,000 of taxpayers' money for ink cartridges. Oh, and now that I think of it, Richard Boyd Barrett – who claimed €12,000 in one year for travelling from the Dail to his Glenageary home – should be chucked out too. He can take with him the tax evader Mick Wallace and all the sanctimonious and mischievous leftie TDs who have whipped up hysteria about the modest household charge and encouraged people to break the law by refusing to pay it. Someone has to pay for empty bins and clean streets and it's irresponsible to tell people there's a magic money tree. The people of Northern Ireland, who pay hefty council taxes, would weep with joy if they had to pay only €100.

Bishop John Kirby is the sacrificial prelate this year. Not only did he show ignorance and insensitivity in his handling of child abuse, but while chairman of Trocaire he allowed the charity to continue lobbying for an EU-wide boycott of Israeli goods. With Christians being persecuted in many parts of the Middle East, you might expect the Irish Catholic Church to feel some sympathy with one of the few states which protects its religious minorities, but you'd be wrong. Instead, Trocaire takes its Middle Eastern politics from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who this year have indulged in what Alan Shatter rightly called "cyber-bullying" in its efforts to stop Irish artists having anything to do with Israel. Off with them to Gaza, with Dr Raymond Deane in steerage.

We mustn't, of course, forget to expel Giovanni Trapattoni, who in 2012 has inspired Ireland to such remarkable achievements as clocking up the worst performance ever by any team in the European Championships. Clearly, the effectiveness of his Opus Dei prayers isn't what he hoped it would be.

What a happy Christmas Ireland could have without them all.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards