It's a cautionary tale to chill everyone's heart – but particularly politicians, for whom the golden rule of survival is to never have a bad word to say about anyone within the boundaries of one's constituency. (Except for rivals, of course).
Yesterday, junior minister Brian Hayes took a trip to the Clare coastline with a gaggle of other politicians from the county to inspect the recent storm damage. And it was evident that election fever was taking hold, with manoeuvring by politicians to get into photos with the minister.
However, when the entourage arrived in one town, a couple of unfortunate local lads found a tempest waiting for them. Fine Gael senator Martin Conway and Fine Gael councillor Bill Slattery brought the minister to meet a resident affected by the storms. But the woman was irate.
"Is there something wrong with your phone?" she asked Bill, before going on to explain that when she had ended a call with him a few days earlier, his mobile hadn't cut the connection, and so she was able to listen to his subsequent conversation with the person in his company, who happened to be Mr Conway. And she was unamused to overhear what she thought were a few unflattering opinions of herself being aired. It had been "outrageous", she told the aghast senator and councillor, as Mr Hayes wisely sidled away from the storm.