Sally, your country needs you yet again
Joseph O'Connor remembers a long-lost love and the way that she might look at you
PEOPLE of my own age -- 807 -- are able to remember not merely the recession of the Eighties but the grey wasteland of scapulars and swirling mist that was the Ireland that existed before that. It was a place where nothing much happened unless you were a Carmelite or a terrorist.
It would be a mistake to say that Fianna Fail dictated over the country. It was more that Mr Haughey dictated over the country personally, from his underground labyrinth in Paris or the Bahamas, or his largest yacht, The Jolly Roger. He would occasionally appear on television, forbiddingly stroking a cat or threateningly striking his fetlock with a riding crop as he adjusted his monocle. He was the only prime minister in the world who actually owned his own vultures, and he had trained them to swoop on party dissidents and kill them.
In between, we had Labour and Fine Gael, Ireland's version of social democracy. They'd occasionally slap tax on children's shoes just in case you thought they were getting a bit too politically correct, and they were busily constructing the Ireland of the future: an arctic region roamed by gangs of cannibals. The Labour Party leader had the spoonerised nickname Crank Fluskey. Yes, satire was alive and well.