AFTER A tumultuous year in politics, the calm of the Dáil's lengthy Christmas break provides a good opportunity to look back on 2009, and dish out awards to the most deserving.

The Devon Loch Award: During the 1956 Aintree Grand National, Devon Loch was just yards from the winning post when he slipped up, to be overtaken and beaten. This award for 2009 goes to Labour senator Alex White. For months, White was the only declared candidate in the Dublin South by-election. He looked to be on course to take the late Séamus Brennan's seat, when Fine Gael pulled George Lee out of the bag in a political master stroke to top the poll and leave the assiduous White wondering where it had all gone wrong.

The ESB Award: This award has nothing to do with electricity. ESB was the name of the horse that passed out Devon Loch to win that famous Grand National. After a shaky start, ESB rose to greatness. At the start of his tenure, the minister for finance, Brian Lenihan, was clearly behind the curve and had difficulty in coming to terms with the mammoth task his portfolio presented. Admitting that he had not fully read a PWC report into Irish banks was a PR disaster but he grew into the role throughout 2009, and who would have thought a finance minister could cut dole payments and public sector pay and be largely lauded for his brave decisions?

Political Gibe of the Year Award: The most memorable political jibe of 2009, and indeed the noughties, was probably Green TD Paul Gogarty's recent "F**k you, Deputy Stagg" outburst. But his "unparliamentary language" disqualifies him from contention. Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea, Dermot Ahern, Timmy Dooley and John Cregan are always game for some political jousting. Fine Gael has an abundance of TDs – including James Reilly, Leo Varadkar, Alan Shatter, Pádraic McCormack, Michael Ring and the perennial giber, Bernard Durkan – who can think quickly on their feet. Labour's Kathleen Lynch also delivers razor-sharp witty remarks but the political gibe of 2009 comes from her party leader, Eamon Gilmore.

During a mundane Dáil debate on 12 March, Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris raised the issue of a British navy vessel conducting patrols in Irish territorial waters. Looking back at Ferris, Gilmore immediately scoffed, "The deputy is a bit of a naval officer himself!" Gilmore's obvious reference to Ferris's arrest by the navy for IRA gunrunning in 1984 was greeted with an eruption of laughter around the chamber from all sides, and even brought a smile to Ferris's face.

YouTube Clip of the Year Award: Gogarty's "F**k you" outburst is a clear contender as it was an instant internet hit but there is still some doubt over whether it was premeditated or not. As that doubt lingers, then RTé political correspondent David Davin-Power's live Nine O'Clock News broadcast from the Fianna Fáil ardfheis emerges as the winner. As Davin-Power broadcast live, several Fianna Fáil supporters gathered around him and stared at the camera like zombies. One of the eager Fianna Fáilers to 'doughnut' around the RTé reporter was Offaly councillor John Foley, who dropped out of the picture after falling off a chair. It's a YouTube classic that one never tires of watching.

Groundhog Day Award: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And if that doesn't work, try even harder. That seems to be Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD James Bannon's philosophy. Under Dáil's Standing Order 32, a TD may seek to have the business of the Dáil adjourned to deal with a matter of national importance. Every day, Bannon rises to his feet to raise matters (usually of importance to Longford) and every day the ceann comhairle responds, "Having considered the matter raised, it is not in order."

Not a Snowball's Chance Award: Politicians make promises. Politicians break those promises. Some people are adamant that you should not even believe the radio in a politician's car. Published in October, the Renewed Programme for Government contains many achievable goals. But page 29 of the 41-page document contains the pledge, "We will develop a Bray to Balbriggan cycle and pedestrian route, and other similar routes such as Oranmore to Barna, as major tourism and commuter facilities." In this economic crisis, there is no chance of that happening in the life of this government.

Self-analysis Award: Self-criticism is uncommon in politics and it is especially uncommon in the ranks of Sinn Féin. So this award has to go to SF councillor Toireasa Ferris for her honest post-Euro and local-election analysis of her party; she claimed Sinn Féin was "neither a credible alternative to the government nor a party of protest", admitted that the electorate in the republic sees "us as a Northern-based party irrelevant to the everyday concerns of people in the 26 counties", and frankly wrote, "Sinn Féin simply means nothing to the bulk of people in the south".

U-turn Award: Education minister Batt O'Keeffe's row-back on university fees. Enough said.

Gone By Lunchtime Award: Green TD Ciaran Cuffe blogged that his party would pull out of government by lunchtime on Friday, 9 October, if it failed to reach a deal on a new programme for government with Fianna Fáil. Lunchtime came and went before the parties agreed a deal around 9pm, leaving egg sticking firmly on Cuffe's face.

Shane Coleman is on leave