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28 May 2009 Edition

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Eoin Ryan: The token MEP

“IT IS VITAL that Eoin connects with his voters but, after a day of canvassing on Thursday, he is noticeably lacking in energy. Standing at the Luas stop near Connolly station, he seems reluctant to delay commuters. Ryan holds out his campaign literature, looking slightly helpless. Hands shoved deep in their pockets, eyes fixed on the train station, commuters sidestep him and his team of brightly-dressed campaigners.”
– Sunday Times, 24 May

READING the Sunday Times last weekend you can’t help but laugh. Eoin ‘I wrote 11 reports for the European Parliament’ Ryan is struggling for the last seat in Dublin. And, most horrifying of all, he could lose to ‘that woman’, Mary Lou McDonald. Has the Ryan dynasty been reduced to this? To going gently into that good night at the hands of a Shinner?
This is a man who wrote 11 reports for the European Parliament, for Christ’s sake! Eleven! I mean... wow! That’s a lot of copy and paste. He made a big deal of it on RTÉ’s Questions & Answers a couple of weeks ago, repeating it at least twice, which caused me to think. If a Fianna Fáil politician says something that often, it’s probably not true.
And so I set myself the task of finding those 11 reports.
It was trickier than you might have thought.
They’re not on his own webpage. Perhaps, I thought to myself, they’re such big reports the internet is unable to hold them. Maybe I’ll have to go to Strasbourg to read them and invoice the Phoblacht for expenses. But then, sadly, I found a link directing me to his European Parliament site for details of the reports Eoin has done.
According to that, since he was elected in 2004, Eoin’s done three reports. One is about how metal tokens can sometimes look like euro coins. Another is about the problem of metal tokens looking like euro coins in countries outside the EU but that use the euro.
Mary Lou did one report. Hers was about guaranteeing decent living and working conditions for people who work on ships and boats, not a small issue for an island nation, you would think. But a lenghty examination of Mary Lou’s European Parliament record reveals not a single question – not one! – on euro coins or on metal tokens that look like them.
In this, Mary Lou must concede failure and be big enough to admit it. When your one euro coin is under threat from “a medal or metal token similar to euro coins”, look to the vigilant Eoin Ryan, standing on the ramparts, watching over your euro coins while you sleep to ensure no one replaces them with Connect 4 chips.

IT’S not clear where Eoin’s other reports have gone. Maybe he mistook three for 11. Happens to the best of us. The last six months have taught us Fianna Fáil aren’t much good at numbers anyway.
Maybe on the others he was just a co-author... the guy who fetches coffee and does the photocopying. Or, come to think of it, maybe the other eight were just expenses claims. We don’t know for sure because Eoin doesn’t think the people of Dublin have a right to know what expenses he claims.
But be careful about writing him off. Fianna Fáil have a supply of money that is, for practical purposes, endless. Today, a string of new Eoin Ryan posters appeared where he holds a sign promising that jobs and investment will now be his top priorities in Europe. Two questions immediately arise. Since his party is the reason there are neither jobs nor investment in Ireland, is there a basic issue of competence here? Do you ask a man skilled in the arts of smashing your car with a crowbar and setting it alight to repair your Volvo? I suggest you do not.
Secondly, and more importantly, if jobs and investment become his number one priority, who will watch over the medals and tokens that look like euro coins?
Gay Mitchell? Proinsias de Rossa? That gibbering loon Ganley? Hah! I think not.

AND it’s not just posters. The Irish political and media establishment might squabble, sometimes ruthlessly, among themselves but when one of them is under threat from an undesirable (that’s you, McDonald) they close ranks. Conscious of the need to protect our coins, the media has been swinging into action.
While the Sunday Times gently mocked Eoin, the Sunday Independent gave him and his daughter, Sarah, who is a candidate in the local elections, a big puff piece in the paper. The Star asked Eoin to write a column in Monday’s paper about the search for Madeleine McCann. I didn’t manage to see the piece but the person who told me about it was pretty sure Eoin doesn’t know where Maddie is and it’s not clear from his election literature just how big an issue she will be to him in the next election.
But if exploiting the trauma of a child abduction is what it takes to get re-elected, Eoin will do it. He’s not a bad man, mind. It’s not because he’s evil. It’s because of the coins, you see, and the medals and metal tokens. If he’s not returned to the European Parliament, who will watch over them?

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