“F**k off, how about that for information?” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a press conference today. “And you can have that for free.”
The Taoiseach was responding to claims raised by the press that the Government’s attitude towards the freedom of information was bordering on totalitarian. “The one f**king thing Fianna Fáil did right was make it nigh impossible to keep a tab on government and now we’ve had to scrap it,” fumed Kenny.
The Taoiseach laughed when told that having information accessible to both citizens and the media through FoI requests was important in order to keep government accountable. “Accountability?! From the media! That’s f**king rich.”
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin outlined the Government’s original plans for changes to the act: “I actually wanted to bring in something similar to that abortion craic we put through in July. Anyone who wanted information would have to be screened by a committee who would just decide that they had mental issues and tell them to f**k off.”
TDs from all parties have shown surprising solidarity on the issue. The biggest risk for them being the effect accessible information could have on their expenses opportunities. Noel Harrington TD cited the example of former TD Ivor Callely, who was asked to pay back €6,000 following information published by The Sunday Tribune, attained via a FoI request, which showed that his mileage claims were miscalculated.
“I mean, poor Ivor. How the f**k are we meant to have the craic if anyone can stick their noses in our business? I don’t go rooting around asking how the peasants are spending their dole, do I? If I want to spend €50,000 in expenses on shoes then surely that’s my business.”
The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore cited other countries with stricter FoI legislation than Ireland and said that, in fact, we stack up quite well when compared with other countries, like Somalia and North Korea. “People should just leave the government alone and let us run the country. Fine Gael know what they’re doing,” said the Labour leader. “I don’t tell the average pleb how to do his job. I already know how to batter sausages.”
Labour had to abandon their initial plan for the free press as part of their coalition negotiations with Fine Gael in 2011, after Fine Gael deemed it “too right wing, even for us.” Gilmore’s party pushed hard for the abolition of the free press altogether and the RTE Guide becoming the sole news outlet for the country.
Gilmore hopes that he might be able to implement his policy regarding the media in 2016 on the back of Labour’s predicted landslide victory in the next general election. He said the policy came from “some book”. “All archives, both print and digital would be seized and relocated to the Department of the Taoiseach, where it would be edited, just to make sure it was right. Any print archives not in keeping with Labour’s view of history would be pulped and used to make papier-mâché busts of Dick Spring.”
Gilmore also expressed his disgust for journalists. “They’re the worst kind of parasites, and that’s something coming from me, as both a politician and a former trade union organiser.”