Oh Shane Ross, can't you go five seconds without humiliating yourself?
Shane Ross seems almost impossibly bad at his job.
This past weekend, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport embarrassed himself yet again when he tweeted about some electric car charging stations that he was pretending were operational.
In the original post, Shane Ross wrote: "Who said that there is a shortage of chargers for electric cars? Look what I found in sunny Marlay Park this morning!"
For a moment, it seemed like he had us. Then his suspenders snapped and his trousers fell down like Abe Simpson standing in the graveyard.
He was quickly corrected by a citizens' group, who noted: "Just so nobody gets stranded please be aware that neither of the charge points in Marlay Park is yet operational. They never have been." The chargers were installed almost four months ago now.
The most insulting part of this latest gaffe isn't that Ross is clueless (he is), or that he's inept (he is). It's that he is deliberately misleading the public with the express purpose of making their concerns seem unfounded. It's an explicit attempt to not just misdirect the Irish public, but to gaslight them.
To belittle the idea that maybe the government hasn't provided enough charging stations. We have plenty of charging stations. Look at this one I'm plugging into my car! He wasn't even smart enough to do the stunt at a station that was turned on.
In the days since, that same group has pressured Ross to simply tell the public when the charging stations will be turned on. He has failed to do so.
Apologies to Richard Bruton for jumping the gun on today's new EV charger announcement! Here in Marlay Park this new charger is due to be operational in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/XUyZeDdESJ
— Shane Ross (@Shane_RossTD) August 26, 2019
What should be the easiest part of Ross' job has proven to be an Achilles' heel. Actually, the phrase Achilles' heel is unfair, because Achilles was actually good at his job. The point is, even congratulating athletes seems to be well beyond Ross' command.
A particularly low moment came after Katie Taylor became the undisputed lightweight world champion. As she stepped through those automatic doors in Arrivals at Dublin Aiport, Shane Ross bobbed and weaved behind her with a skill that would make her proud.
Rather than dodging jabs and hooks, however, he was making sure he stayed in shot, so that any back-page story or spread telling of Katie's victory would also feature Shane Ross' gormless head, as if he had somehow been in the corner coaching her.
He clearly still had Katie on the brain when he introduced Kellie Harrington a week later, after she won a silver medal at the European Games. Ross called her Katie Harrington and didn't correct himself, prompting the young boxer to positively snort with laughter.
Ross infamously got the name of Sanita Pušpure wrong after she became the world champion of single sculls at the World Championships. Ross' staff simply copy-pasted an RTÉ headline which referred to the "dominant Puspure," mistaking the adjective as the sportswoman's actual. first. name.
Ross has publicly confused Dave Kearney with Rob Kearney. He calls Thomas Barr "Thomas Barry." He calls Stephen Kenny "Shane." Speaking about Ireland's famous 1-0 win over Germany, he said: "It's not that long ago that we saw Shay Given score and assist Shane Long with that fantastic goal against Germany."
Try pick out the pieces of sense from that pile of word vomit.
Score and assist? Does he know what... score means? Shay Given wasn't even on the pitch. The guy probably hears the phrase "square ball" and nods along confused, silently trying to work out which sport is played with an actual square ball.
Let's call a spade a spade. Shane Ross knows nothing about sport. He doesn't know who any of our athletes are and he doesn't care. He doesn't seem to know anything about transport either, and looks about as natural on a Dublin Bus as he would in the middle of, oh, say, North Korea.
Speaking of which, remember that time he planned to join John Halligan and Finian McGrath on a trip to North Korea?
Or there was the time a €150,000 grant to refurbish hockey facilities was given to Wesley College - a fee-paying boarding school in Ross' own constituency.
There was the time he had very kind words for the FAI, all the way up until a journalist came along and exposed them for what everybody knew them to be. Now he's hitched himself to that bandwagon, which we can only pray is not an electric one - because god knows he won't be able to help them find a charging station.
There was the time he somehow contrived to accidentally vote against his own bill - the Road Traffic Bill - in the Dáil.
When it comes to making a show of himself, Ross is something of an idiot-savant. Or, perhaps, just an idiot. His brand of disengaged muppetry has real world consequences - funding scandals, car seizures, ever-eroding trust in the government. It is hard to imagine that he could be any worse at his job.
Thankfully, we don't have to imagine. It should only be another few weeks before he embarrasses himself again.