Category: Archive

An Echo reader lets air out of Clare windbags

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A new Waffler of the Year award has being introduced for political windbags on Clare county council — thanks to a $1,000 endowment from an Irish Echo reader.

Council chairman P.J. Kelly, a retired teacher, has been campaigning against rambling rants by some of the councilors. Now his campaign has been backed by a Clare-born New Yorker who stumped up the cash for the new award after reading about the problem in the Echo.

The benefactor of the brevity booty wishes to remain anonymous, said Kelly, and the prize will be awarded in the name of long-suffering reporters covering meetings of the 32 councilors between now and next June’s local elections. The notion has clearly piqued the interest of the media and Kelly has been interviewed extensively by reporters from Irish dailies, the BBC, and French and German news agencies.

A month ago, Kelly warned he would launch a campaign to "tidy up talking" and the Echo carried his caution.

"Years ago the Skibbereen Eagle kept its eye on Russia but now the Irish Echo is keeping an eye on us," he said. "I told the councilors it was our next parish over there in New York and there could be electoral changes."

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"We should be more clear in our thought and more concise in our expression. If we haven’t something positive to say, we should shut up," he admonished colleagues.

"Unfortunately, we have inherited a system that is 100 years old. The younger chaps come in and they inherit the thing from the older people. The majority of our councils believe that the speech is the longest distance between two quotations."

Whether the title will ever be bestowed is in doubt after Kelly introduced a new red and yellow card system this week — it appears to have done the trick.

"We had the most efficient meeting in my memory," Kelly said. "It was completely waffle-free and we completed our business in just one hour and 46 minutes, compared with the usual time of five and a half hours."

The yellow card warns that politicians are departing from the point and repeating themselves and the red card alerts them to a 30-second guillotine.

Kelly said expects the U.S.-based philanthropist to still have his money in his pocket next June. He can’t imagine any councilor wanting to go door-to-door next June seeking votes with the title Waffler of the Year.

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