The bell tolls (and tolls and tolls and tolls) for a puzzled Tom Fleming TD

Supporters of Independent TD Tom Fleming have made some bizarre excuses for his poor voting record in the Dáil.

An Irish Independent report revealed that the Kerry South TD did not vote on 14 of the 20 occasions he was fobbed into the Dáil to claim thousands of Euro and travel accommodation costs.

The excuses given by John O’Connor, a management consultant representing the TD tells us more about the low opinion Mr. Fleming has of his political colleagues than it does about his poor Dáil record.

According to Mr. O’Connor Deputy Fleming has an ethical compass, he has a brain and if others had the same intellect as his leader the country wouldn’t be in the mess it was in now.

The suggestion seems to be that there’s a serious lack of brains and ethical compasses in our national parliament.

I have to say there’s a lot of truth in that claim.

He’s not in there to prop up a government and he’s not there to oppose things for the sake of it either, he’s not a nihilist.

What? He’s not a nihilist? I quickly checked the dictionary to see if I had been in error regarding the meaning of this word.

No, no I wasn’t.

a. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.

b. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

Then, suddenly, I realised what Mr. O’Connor was trying to say:

All Irish politicians, with the exception of his leader, of course, were deniers of all existence, believed that all values were baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

Feck, the guy is a genius. It’s the most accurate assessment of the Irish body politic I have ever heard.

But the most bizarre and most hilarious excuse comes from the great man himself.

Deputy Fleming said he missed a number of votes at the start of the Dáil term because, as a new TD, he did not know what the bell calling deputies to the chamber to vote was for.

I fell about laughing when I read this most pristine of gombeen excuses.

All new TDs are provided with written and oral advice regarding Dáil procedures, responsibilities and regulations.

I’m not sure, however, if it’s thought necessary to inform new TDs about the bell which is broadcast throughout the entire building.

Its function, after all, is to call deputies to vote in the chamber which is the most basic part of their job.

It would be a bit like an official thinking it necessary to say to a new TD – Do you see that building in front of you, well that’s Dáil Éireann.

The door in the centre of the building is the entrance, there’s no other door so you can’t miss it.

I can just imagine Deputy Fleming working away in his office when this loud and very strange sounding bell starts ringing.

Feck it, he thinks, what is that noise? I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on my expenses application.

After several days of really hard thinking and with his head near bursting he gives up and decides to ring a fellow (non nihilist) TD.

Tom: Howya Paddy, could you ever tell me what that fecking bell is for?

Paddy: I’ve been racking my very intelligent brain for days now Tom and I just can’t figure it out.

I suppose if it’s a fire alarm we’d have had our arses burnt off by now.

Tom: Maybe it’s calling us to lunch although it seems to go off at all sorts of times.

Paddy: And it couldn’t be calling us to the bar for free drinks, their free all the time.

Tom: could it be calling us to prayers, ya know, like them Muslim fellows?

Paddy: I doubt it Tom, us Catholics don’t go in for all that public prayer stuff.

Tom: Oh Jazus Paddy, please tell me it’s not for calling us to collect our expenses.

Paddy: Oh bollicks, I’ll bet that’s exactly what it’s for. Come on; let’s get our arses down to the paymaster before we lose our entitlements.