WAS James Reilly up to all sorts of mysterious experiments in south Co Dublin yesterday? For the Health Minister was taken on a behind-closed-doors tour of the Icon clinic research facility in Leopardstown, which included a demonstration in one of the laboratories.
Who knows what useful potions the doc was attempting to concoct, given the various political woes which ail him and the Government at present? It could've been an elixir to soften the cough of increasingly mutinous nurses unions who are up in arms over pay; a happy pill to slip sneakily to the poobahs of the ECB so they'll chill out over giving Ireland a break on stumping up for the dreaded bank promissory notes. Or maybe it was a magic formula to remove all traces of horse DNA from beef.
However, chances are that he was brewing some sort of tranquiliser to feed to Fine Gael and Labour TDs in order to cure all fevered talk of cracks in the Coalition.
For the Government could certainly do with having some sea-sickness tablets handy these days, as the ship of state is being tossed about some turbulent waters, thanks in no small part by the ultimate political vortex that is abortion legislation-meets-bank debt deal.
There have been all sorts of mutterings that some pro and anti-choice TDs and senators are digging in on their respective views on what should be included in the abortion legislation recommendations that Dr Reilly is due to bring to Cabinet today.
In fact, it was suggested that so great is the potential for ructions among Labour and Fine Gael members of the Oireachtas that Dr Reilly had lost his bottle for the battle, and the planned Cabinet briefing was being put on that useful political digit, the long finger.
However he expressed the possibly forlorn hope that the debate between the two camps will remain civilised and won't descend into the usual cacophony of insults and outrageous claims.
"I think the matter has been conducted in a very sensible way to date, and I'd like it to continue that way, and I look forward to expediting the heads of the Bill as quickly as possible, and getting the legislation through the Dail as quickly as possible," he said.
Nor was he fazed over creaks in the Coalition over the other tricky topic of getting a deal on the promissory notes by the end of next month – even though one Labour senator, John Gilroy, popped over the parapet to declare that a general election should be called in the grim event the Government's haggling brings home no bacon at all.
The Health Minister stuck to the steady-as-she-goes mantra. "I know that both the Tanaiste and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan have been progressing this and they're making progress," he stressed. "We all want to see a result that will reassure people that this note won't end up being a burden."
Indeed. Otherwise we'll all be sick as parrots. And there's no miraculous cure for that.