Miriam Lord: Leo? The dude is a dove. Even when a Healy-Rae threatens hellfire – Irish Times

Leo is not a hawk. The dude is a dove. And this, in the teeth of intense provocation from a bellicose man at the coalface in a black cap with an axe to grind and a thriving Mace supermarket in south Kerry.

“Taoiseach, I was shocked to hear Government environmental advisers are urging the banning of turf and all coal sales, including even smokeless coal,” cried Michael Healy-Rae, an ominous edge to his voice.

“Now, the only thing I can guarantee, Taoiseach, is if you or any politicians or any Minister ever support the banning of the burning of coal in this country, you will be faced with every type of fire and brimstone, and hell will be brought down upon you.”

Hell, no less. The Taoiseach did a double take. A Healy-Rae threatening eternal damnation is not to be trifled with.

This is not for anybody to snigger or sneer at. I have no denying in the world: myself or my brothers would not be here if it wasn’t for turf

“And there is one thing that I’ll say to you, and this is not for anybody to snigger or sneer at,” he quavered. “I have no denying in the world: myself or my brothers would not be here if it wasn’t for turf.” A statement you don’t hear every day in the Dáil, and one that demanded further explanation.

We were all agog. Michael elaborated. “Our grandmother went to the bog barefoot when people had nothing, and she cut turf; our father sold turf in our village, in Kilgarvan, with a horse and rail to make a couple of pounds to keep the house going. That’s where we came from, Taoiseach. We came from nowhere else.”

Unlike Leo, who appeared mesmerised, the Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan, intervened with an observation that was almost as explosive as Healy-Rae’s threat of unleashing a diabolical storm upon fossil-fuel fanatics and briquette deniers.

“We came from across the mountains and had the exact same upbringing, but it still makes sense to take this new direction,” he declared. But, but . . . Eamon is the quintessential Sandymount man. Isn’t he? Even Healy-Rae looked confused.

The Green leader didn’t explain. So afterwards, for the distraught denizens of Dublin 4, we sought out Eamon and demanded an immediate explanation.

“My mother is from Macroom, over the Cork and Kerry mountains,” he explained, waxing lyrical about happy childhood days.

Whatever about hellfire, the Taoiseach reassured the incandescent Healy-Rae that there are no plans for an outright ban on burning coal and turf, although “it certainly would be our objective, over time, to remove the burning of peat from power generation, and perhaps the burning of coal as well in the medium to longer term.”

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