There's a new 'green' in town. Last week, farmers unveiled the first new vegetable in 10 years. It's called the 'flower sprout' and is a weird-looking kale hybrid that veggie heads hope will give the maligned Brussels sprout an image makeover.
News of the flower sprout's arrival broke on the same day that another green vegetable was being boiled in public. Like the sprout, Green Party leader John Gormley is hugely unpopular and leaves a noxious odour behind him. On Wednesday, Pat Kenny turned the heat up on his defence of the government's whitewash of the banking crisis. Gormley said he welcomed the Commission of Inquiry, which will save key political figures a public grilling. (End of cookery puns.)
Just in case there's any confusion: this was the same Gormley who demanded a FULL PUBLIC inquiry. This was the same Gormley who pointedly didn't attend the Dáil announcement last Tuesday. His colleagues stayed away too.
Even by Gormley's usual hypocritical standards, his performance was off the scale. He hid behind buzzwords like 'scoping'. What's scoping? Is it some unpleasant medical procedure we get to inflict on the bankers? No. Scoping means drawing up the terms of reference for the inquiry… four months from now. The commission will begin in July and a document will be delivered next year – three years after the crisis began. Gormley didn't get the public inquiry he wanted. He got a delaying tactic.
He told Pat he couldn't understand why people were "dissing" the commission. (It nearly rhymed. "Yo! Don't you be dissin'… mah co-mish-on..."). Memo to gangsta rapper Gormley: people are "dissing" it because they want to see the architects of their misfortune dragged through the streets. They want revenge. He knows this despite his protestations.
They don't want a party with no integrity left propping up another one that had no integrity to begin with. Since signing up with Fianna Fáil, the Greens have compromised on every major principle they stood for. Before entering government, they supported the Shell to Sea movement, the halting of US military planes landing at Shannon and the re-routing of the M3.
Today, Eamon Ryan is in charge of the Corrib gas project and military flights still stop at Shannon. The latter is a classic example of the Greens being duped by a Fianna Fáil stalling tactic. In 2008, the government was forced to set up a cabinet committee to review the searching of suspected CIA rendition flights. Last week, Amnesty's Colm O'Gorman recalled Ciaran Cuffe happily endorsing it. Two years on, the committee has only met twice and there is still no review. There's a lesson to be learned in that.
Tara is the greatest betrayal of all, with Gormley steamrolling the M3 through the historic valley, despite the international outcry. His defence of this vandalism is even more galling when you consider that the M3 tolls are going to a multinational for the next 40 years. When there is a shortfall in usage the Irish taxpayer will make up the difference.
Now there is another archaeological flashpoint on the horizon. Plans were announced last week for a bypass at Slane, 500m from the edge of the Newbridge world monument. Who wants this vandal in charge when the fight begins over this?
Even in a business as devoid of conscience as politics, Gormley stands out as a man missing the shame gene. He was very misleading on Prime Time about the sourcing of extra grit/salt during the freeze.
He knows the banking inquiry is buying time for Brian Cowen. He also knows that the Toxic Trinity of banker, builder and politician is still with us. Two weeks ago, housing minister Michael Finneran said there were up to 140,000 unoccupied houses around the country. The construction industry suggested 40,000.
However, a study carried out at NUI Maynooth concluded there are 302,000: enough to satisfy demand for years to come. That's bad news for the construction industry – and the government if it has been spinning figures to suit its building buddies. Here is the physical proof that Ireland was deliberately over-developed by the Toxic Trinity.
Next month, the third member of that trinity, the bankers, will start throwing people out of their homes as the repossession moratorium comes to an end. This is as good a reason as any for Gormley to have forced Fianna Fáil's hand over the banks.
By his own lights he had the power to demand a full public inquiry. In 2008, he ran into problems with the EU over his plans to ban incandescent light bulbs. His spokesman said those problems could be over-ridden by EU legislation. Why couldn't Gormley have applied similar logic to the banking inquiry? If legislation is hindering you, find a way around it or change it. As with everything else, he sold out to stay in. He betrayed us, just as he betrayed our heritage. He has proven again that he believes in power at all costs.
His inquiry is a con job. Like the flower sprout, it's an illusion. A sprout is still a sprout no matter how you dress it up. A whitewash is still a whitewash.
The only consolation is – come election time – Gormley is one green the public will really enjoy getting their teeth into.