Joan Burton’s performance in the witness box today was nothing short of incredible, with hammed up account of a ‘terrifying’ couple of hours in the back seat of a heated jeep. As well as bizarre, some of her testimony simply did not make sense. Here are three examples
1) ‘No reductions in weekly social welfare rates’
When asked if she accepted that large sections of Irish society were angry at the betrayals and broken promises of the labour party in government, she repeatedly claimed to have gotten an equal amount of positive responses and even boasted that she had gotten an “award” from the trade union movement! Apparently even the wipe out of the Labour Party in the general election wasn’t enough to impress this on her. But then this is a woman who can still claim with a straight face, and while under oath, that she made “no reductions in weekly social welfare rates”. Tell that to lone parents with children aged over 7, or young people whose dole was cut.
2) Selective deafness
Straining credibility even more, if that were possible, we’re supposed to believe that since childhood she has suffered from a rare medical condition that renders her incapable of hearing loud political chanting right in front of her. What a terrible affliction it must be to be only capable of hearing “abuse” (for Burton this included justified chants of “shame on you!”) in fact, so selectively damaged is her poor hearing that when played a clip of a woman shouting “my children are fucking starving because of you” and asked “did you hear that?” She responded in an offended tone, “Well, I heard the ‘fucking'”‘
3) A modern day James Connolly & Michael Collins all rolled into one
A final incredible dimension of Burton’s testimony today was her comparisons of herself and her situation to famous Irish historical figures. Sitting in a Garda jeep, with dozens of gardai between her and an angry crowd of protesters and reading an Irish times article about Michael Collins, she pondered “how Michael Collins would have felt”. The absurdity of this comment sparked laughter in the court room – was she seriously comparing being delayed in a Garda jeep surrounded by gardai for a couple of hours to the ambush and assassination of Michael Collins in Beal na Blath?
If that was ridiculous, her claim to be carrying on the ideas of James connolly by slashing social welfare and working people’s living standards while propping up a blueshirt FG government was insulting and outrageous. ”
“I am one of the people who succeeded James Connolly.”, she preened, “It’s always been an honour to be in his party and carry on his ideas”.
For Joan, so accustomed to spinning and twisting in the Dail, the fact she was in a witness box under oath was no deterrent.