It's all heaving bosoms as SF woos wary FF
Published 03/12/2015 | 02:30
All that was missing was the high-tempo piano swelling in the background as a grinning, tweed-clad Gerry Adams tied his distressed and helpless maiden, Micheál Martin, to the train tracks as the hoot of an oncoming election express grew ominously louder.
And, meanwhile, in the posh seats the toffs of Fine Gael cheer and snigger and throw their top hats in the air.
There's more than a touch of the Victorian melodrama about the political theatre of Leinster House, with outrage and horror vying with knowing nods-and-winks, coy come-hither glances, flat denials and dropped hints heavy enough to break one's foot.
The election may still be a twinkle in Enda's eye, but already the metaphorical bed has been trundled into the Dáil chamber, and everyone's watching closely to see which political parties are eager to test out its springs.
The Sinn Féin leader sparked anxiously heaving bosoms in both his own party and Fianna Fáil on Tuesday when he appeared to be making googly-eyes at Micheál's men by refusing four times to scoff at the notion of snuggling up to them, post-election.
By mid-morning yesterday, Micheál was reaching for the smelling-salts, launching a denial so loaded with indignation that it was practically written in a Cork accent. "Sinn Féin posturing ahead of elections is nothing new and should be dismissed as such," scolded the statement.
Various trusted lieutenants were pressed into action, scrambling to paint Gerry as the villain of the piece. Mayo's Dara Calleary popped up on Midwest Radio, declaring: "A coalition with Sinn Féin, or Fine Gael for that matter, is not something on our agenda. We have too many extreme policy differences with Sinn Féin."
Clare's Timmy Dooley was up on Twitter like a shot, pronouncing any cosying up to be "as likely as Gerry Adams admitting he was IRA chief-of-staff".
Fine Gael was cock-a-hoop. No better way to put the frighteners on traditional Fianna Fáil stalwarts tempted to sneak back to Fianna Fáil under cover of a dark polling-booth, than suggest a pre-election tryst is underway with Sinn Féin.
During a particularly fractious Leaders' Questions, various darts were hurled from one side of the chamber to the other. Junior Minister Simon Harris, normally a genteel young man, heckled the Fianna Fáil leader even as he had Enda on the ropes over the farrago of health.
"Gerry might make you Minister for Health yet," he suggested loudly (twice, in case Micheál didn't hear him the first time around).
Their glee lasted right through to the Order of Business, and Micheál was the target once again as he harangued the Taoiseach about the guillotining of bills. Kerry TD Brendan Griffin, another genteel lad, also joined in the fun. "Would Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin do it differently if they were in power together?" he sniped.
Inevitably, not even the Taoiseach could resist. It was way too much craic altogether, being able to launch a kick and boot two opponents at the same time, after both Gerry and Micheál complained bitterly about the guillotine.
"You're now lined up with Sinn Féin. Perhaps you're cosying up with Sinn Féin because you want something from it. I don't know," he taunted the Fianna Fáil leader.
Neither Gerry nor Micheál rose to the Blueshirt bait.
For both leaders are aware that not every member of their respective parties are averse to hopping into the coalition sack with each other, should the votes make it a possibility.
But there'll be a quare amount of dramatics before that should come to pass.
Given the season that's in it, maybe it's more Christmas panto than melodrama: "Look out behind you, Micheál."