It’s almost exactly one year since the last general election, and it’s been one hell of a year for cringe.

Now in 2021 it can be useful and amusing to look back on some of the most absurd, embarrassing and cringeworthy moments from Ireland’s best and brightest, a.k.a. our beloved politicians.

1. Michéal Martin says there was no bank bailout

It’s almost like this man tries to infuriate the electorate intentionally.

Even more bizarrely, he said this after referencing the bailout on 57 separate occasions, confirming that it happened himself, and even retracted the absurd comment after the backlash, with his camp saying he simply “misspoke” and “made a mistake.”

This failed act of sleight of hand has earned this man the title of “world’s worst magician” in my book.

 

2. Eamon Ryan falls asleep in the Dáil

In most jobs, sleeping on the job is probably a good way of getting yourself sacked on the spot. You could even be working some minimum wage gig at the local deli, and your boss still probably won’t take too kindly to you going for an aul’ snooze on the marble counter at Centra.

But apparently, falling asleep on the job while being paid six figures a year in ministerial salary from the public trough is totally grand. It is to Eamon Ryan, at least.

It’s been claimed he did this multiple times, but Eamon himself maintains that this is false and it was only the once. It’s hard to tell from the images available, so we’ll leave you to speculate.

3. Leo quotes Lord of the Rings, Mean Girls, and Winston Churchill

Leo, in a desperate attempt to rouse the nation in its hour of need, turned to the oldest trick in the political book: rhetoric.

Unfortunately, however, he didn’t have time to write a full speech of his own, and was forced to “borrow” from a few other works, including Mean Girls, after he was challenged to work a quote in by Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin.

It’s all just a big laugh, at the end of the day. Not like there’s a serious national crisis going on or anything.

 

4. Alan Kelly goes maskless on the Luas after Dáil tirade about masks

After making a big deal out of people not wearing masks on public transport one month prior, Labour Leader Alan Kelly was snapped on the Luas on his phone, totally bare-faced.

He had even personally campaigned to make mask-wearing mandatory on buses and trains beforehand.

“I was distracted while watching the Man United match on my phone and adjusting my headphones at the same time. We all make mistakes. Sorry,” he said in his defence.

If only it was that excuse had worked for all the poor sods who have been fined under laws he advocated for.

5. Mary Lou accuses Michéal Martin of “mansplaining”

Just when you think the Shinners couldn’t get any trendier, Mary Lou took the stunning and brave feminist move of accusing the Fianna Fáil leader of “mansplaining” to her during an RTÉ debate.

Now to be fair to her, there’s no point in paying for PR coaches to teach you how to appear “modern” and “hip” to the youth, and then not using what they taught you in media training. She should take all the expert PR advice she can get.

After watching the above atrocity I sincerely wish the Shinners would put down their arms.

6. Ming: Someone hacked my account and looked for nudes

Ming landed in hot water last September after his Twitter account in the dead of night tweeted out what appeared to be a questionable search term regarding former Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh.

The tweet read “Saoirse McHugh photo skinny dipping”, and was posted at 2.50 a.m. in the early hours of a Monday morning. Notably, Ming is married with children, and shares a constituency with McHugh.

When the tweet was discovered, it was quickly deleted, and Ming claimed that his account had been “compromised”.

Apparently said hacker posted this damning message, then quickly deleted it, and returned Ming’s account to him long enough for him to change his password. We’ll leave that up to you whether you find that chain of events credible. Either way, it’s premium cringe.

7. Eamon Ryan: Let’s grow salad on our windowsill in case of mass food shortages

Back in March, at the start of the lockdown, before we knew how serious covid was or what the future held, all of our nerves were on tenterhooks. We were scared and unsure of what was in store for us. But thankfully, little did we know, we were in safe hands all along. Eamon Ryan had a cure-all for even the most extreme of emergencies – salads.

“Let’s get every south-facing windowsill in this country and let’s plant our seeds in the next week. So, if there is any supply crisis in two to three months time – and this hits hard – we’ll have our salads ready to go.”

Sure, the economy is in tatters, but at least we all have homegrown iceberg lettuce to chown down on. Somebody should have told Eamon that you don’t win friends with salad.

8. Simon Harris said covid-19 is the 19th coronavirus

Last April Simon Harris, while he was serving as Health Minister, apologised for an “awful booboo”, where he said that we shouldn’t get our hopes up about finding a vaccine for covid-19, because there were 18 other covids before this latest one, and, he claimed, we didn’t have vaccines for any of those previous ones.

After it was explained to the minister that actually covid-19 was named so because it originated in the year 2019, not because there were 18 other covids, he said he had made an “awful booboo” and said that he could be an “awful old idiot sometimes.”

At least he got one thing right.

9. Ming appears pantsless in front of EU parliament

Yes, this really happened. Fairly self-explanatory.

This would be embarrassing if it happened to any ordinary person, but for a politician representing his nation on the world stage in front of his colleagues, it certainly puts a different tone on things.

At least he wasn’t too worried about it – “I wasn’t that bothered to be quite honest – what’s in a pair of legs at the end of the day?”

10. Michelle O’Neill says that question Sinn Féin’s links to the IRA is “misogyny”

Whether you believe Sinn Féin is linked to the IRA Army Council today or not, this is a laughable argument.

When asked about Sinn Féin’s ties to the IRA during an interview, the Northern Ireland leader said:

“…I just think it’s a lazy debate, to be honest, and I also think it’s a misogynistic debate, I’m going to add, in terms of my – our – own leadership because I hear this thing about pockets and coming from the IRA and all these things that are constantly thrown up.”

When asked if she really thought she had experienced misogyny, she added:

“Absolutely. Absolutely. All day long,” recalling a meme on social media when she was first appointed Northern Ireland leader of her sitting in Gerry Adams’ pocket.

That’s one of the most misogynistic images that anybody could decide to (produce)”.

In other words, “any criticism of me or my party is obviously just because I’m female.” Play the victim card harder, please.

DISHONOURABLE MENTION/BONUS ROUND: Leo’s picnic in the park

Of course, how could anyone forget the classic of Leo going for a big bag of cans with the lads in the Phoenix Park, immediately after he strictly prohibited the rest of us from going for picnics.

I guess the joke’s on all of us for thinking that pleb rules apply to the leader of the country. It’s his world at the end of the day, we’re all just living in it.

So here’s to another year of political cockups and national embarrassment. It may have been the latest, but with the current crowd in charge, we all know it won’t be the last. Cheers!