Thursday 25 August 2016

Alan Shatter, who knew he'd quit? Everyone actually!

Published 11/05/2014 | 02:30

The tweet from Cathal Mac Coille
The tweet from Cathal Mac Coille
Morning Ireland presenter Cathal Mac Coille

Rarely will one tweet capture the spirit of a sub-culture, of an entire class, yet Cathal MacCoille, top man of Morning Ireland, managed it last week with his comment on the recent unrest in the Department of Justice.

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Illustrating his tweet with the official picture of Frances Fitzgerald receiving her seal of office at Aras an Uachtarain, in the company of Chief Justice Susan Denham, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, the new Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan, and, er, some other guy, MacCoille was moved to declare: "Irish politics: 10/10 for unpredictability. I wonder who predicted this? Nobody."

Now, Cathal spends a lot of his days in a radio studio, which may be situated in a basement area, away from the main thoroughfares of everyday life. Yet even within that world, with its restricted views of many things, this was quite a statement. With its mixture of elation and incredulity, it was like that famous reaction of Sir Alex Ferguson's when he was interviewed just after Manchester United had scored twice in the last few minutes to win the Champions League final – "Football! Bloody hell!" he ejaculated.

"Irish politics! Bloody hell!" is the essence of MacCoille's call. However, there are perhaps other ways of looking at it, other interpretations of that magical picture of the Taoiseach, the Chief Justice, the two new ministers, the Ceann Comhairle and the other guy.

That mark of "10/10 for unpredictability" is perhaps inflated, even given the tumescence of the scribes as they watch the Taoiseach "dropping a bombshell" in the Dail and other such unimaginably exciting things.

"Who predicted this?" Well in this paper, a long time ago, Willie Kealy and Jody Corcoran predicted an unhappy ending for Alan Shatter at Justice. Ivan Yates has been predicting it for months, which probably hasn't reached Cathal MacCoille as he's on the radio at the same time.

And in more recent times it might be more appropriate to ask: who didn't predict it?

Indeed, by chance I was travelling through the Alaskan wilderness last month, when I came across this little cabin in which I found a very old man who prided himself on his isolation from the outside world. When he heard I was from Ireland, the first thing he said was: "Ireland? Is that the place in which Alan Shatter will soon no longer be the Minister for Justice?"

So we are now looking at that award of 10 out of 10 for the unpredictability of Irish politics, and seeing a bit of inflation in there.

We'd be thinking more in terms of, say, two out of 10, though you then have to factor in the choice of Frances Fitzgerald as Shatter's replacement – would this be enough to justify pumping up that rating to a perfect 10?

Well in certain circumstances, the choice of a replacement might be truly remarkable – if you had, say, that "bearded lady" who represented Austria so brilliantly in the Eurovision, you would say with some justification: "I wonder who predicted this? Nobody."

But if you have a FG minister being replaced by another FG minister, you're not quite in that territory.

And yet as we try to understand the people of this strange sub-culture, we envy them too. How simple life must be, when such things make you happy.

Sunday Independent

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