"Points of order, when there's disorder, are out of order." As gobbledegook statements go, Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk's utterance was up there with the best of them.
The leader of the Dáil was frantically trying to calm down an unruly opposition who were revolting over what Enda Kenny called a government "whitewash".
The coalition had decided there would be a limited sitting this week, without votes or Leaders Questions. There would be no discussion of the forthcoming bank reports. Coincidence? Kenny and Eamon Gilmore didn't think so. Kenny said he "wouldn't stand for it" and sat down. Comrade Gilmore spoke of a "one-party state".
Captain Kirk fought desperately to save his Cling-ons and beamed Bernard Durkan (FG) out of the chamber. His expulsion reminded me of that old Johnny McEvoy song, 'Mursheen Durkin': "Goodbye Bernard Durkan/shure we're sick and tired of workin'".
This was democracy in action, Irish-style.
A toothless Dáil will now resume at 2.30pm on Wednesday. The Seanad isn't sitting at all – not that anyone would notice.
This enforced Seanad mid-mid-mid-midterm break will have caused one particular senator some serious consternation. Ivor Callely now has to wait two weeks for the next stage of the inquiry into his €81,000 expenses claim. Clontarf-based Callely, in case you haven't been paying attention, has been claiming travel and accommodation expenses to and from his Cork holiday home. Callers to Liveline, however, have pointed out that he's regularly seen jogging around Clontarf. Perhaps he jogged from Cork?
Or sailed up? Last year, a kimono-clad Callely was interviewed by gardaí after an embarrassing yachting accident.
Callely blames the Oireachtas for his €81k bill. He should have the right to give the Oireachtas two residential addresses. It's all very Pee Flynn. Doesn't anybody know how hard it is to run two homes, a constituency office and a yacht?
Kimono Callely is in deep water but, potentially, he's not alone. On Friday it emerged that senator Larry Butler has been claiming accommodation and travel expenses from Kilkenny. His official residence is Foxrock. Is there a pattern emerging here? Callely has again highlighted a system that says it wants to reform itself, but can't.
It's like giving a glutton a job in a sweet factory and expecting him not to gorge.
While the new attendance/expenses checks are to be welcomed because they show up spongers, they're powerless to do anything about them. People like Callely don't care what we think of them, so long as they get paid. They won't reform their mindsets. What kind of a brain thinks it's acceptable to claim €81k in travel expenses from a holiday home? That money would maintain eight people on the dole for a year. Even though he's unelected, Ivor is untouchable. Under the constitution, a senator can only be removed by disqualification or feet first. It's up to them to resign in a scandal.
In England, on the other hand, the Lib Dems have promised legislation to sack MPs guilty of serious misconduct. It's hard to see Irish politicians voting for legislation like that. They're hardwired to ride out scandals and wait for public opinion to move on.
For example, last week Mary Hanafin tut-tutted about Callely's lack of transparency. However, she still refuses to give up her old teaching job with its pension entitlements. How many of us had forgotten about that?
Callely will hope, as the inquiry drags on, that we will forget about him. Just as we may have forgotten about the debate to abolish the Seanad. It's now been nine months since Enda Kenny said he wanted rid of it. The Seanad weathered that storm and is still sheltering Callely's ilk.
Fianna Fáil rushed to say they would be taking the whip from Callely on Thursday. Spare us the righteous indignation. He's one of yours. You put him in the Seanad when we booted him out of the Dáil. You shouldn't have given him state expenses. But then, Fianna Fáil always rehabilitates its villains. Look at Beverley Flynn.
The Callely 'censure' was just a sideshow to distract from Fianna Fáil's gagging of the Dáil in the week the bank reports arrived. That 'gag' was yet another affront to democracy. We're also still waiting for the three outstanding by-elections to be held by an unelected taoiseach.
Ireland is crying out for radical reform of the political system. Now that Callely has put the spotlight back on the Seanad, the government should use the opportunity to finally reform it. To show some symbolic regard for democracy. The mandate is there. In 1979, we passed a referendum to widen the Seanad's representation and open voting to all our universities. It's not universal suffrage, but it's a step in the right direction. Thirty years on and the will of the people has still not been acted upon. An undemocratic institution has been propped up by the suppression of democracy. Fianna Fáil must now give us, at least, the limited Seanad reform we asked for – or move to abolish it. Without reform, all the accountability procedures in the world won't make the Seanad value for money. It will still be a doss house for political hacks like Kimono Callely.
Callely once said that "if people are known to be abusing the system… be tough and throw them out". Hopefully, they will prove to be prophetic words.