Saturday 1 October 2016

My Week: Joan Burton* * As imagined by Gene Kerrigan

Published 17/01/2016 | 02:30

Joan Burton. Photo: Collins
Joan Burton. Photo: Collins

Joan Burton's week (as imagined by Gene Kerrigan)

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MONDAY

I get the week off to a flying start with an evening meeting at which I address my constituency workers on what is at stake in this coming election.

"Remember," I tell them, "the great danger is apathy. You must convince voters of the urgent need to vote Labour and/or Fine Gael." "And why is that?" I ask.

"You want to be Tanaiste again?" suggests a surly youngfella sitting in the front row.

I casually raise my phone and take a photo of him. "No," I say, keeping what the young people call 'my cool'. "It's because the choice in this election is between the stability of Labour and Fine Gael and the chaos that would flow from any other outcome."

As I speak, I casually email the photo to the recently-formed Garda Bureau of Political Acceptability. Subject line: Subversive Infiltrator?????

"A vote for Fianna Fail," I tell my supporters, "is a vote for Sinn Fein. Oh, yes indeed. And a vote for Sinn Fein is a vote for Fianna Fail. A vote for the Greens is not a vote for Labour, therefore it's a vote against Fine Gael and that's a vote for Fianna Fail. And, of course, a vote for Fianna Fail is a vote for Sinn Fein."

At which point the meeting chairperson leans over and whispers in my ear, "Is everything alright, ma'am?"

"So, you see," I tell him, "a vote for the Greens is a vote for Sinn Fein."

"It's been a long day, ma'am," he murmurs. "Perhaps ma'am might like to sit down for a moment. Or lie down. For a few weeks?"

I smile, to make sure he doesn't twig I'm on to him. As he turns away, I raise the camera and take his photo.

TUESDAY I have the Garda Commissioner in and I deliver a bollocking. "Progress?" I snap.

"So far, Tanaiste - and I stress that the investigation is still in its early stages - we have no actual evidence that Sinn Fein sent scuba divers to Kilkenny to swim under that kayak and toss you into the water."

"Evidence? Are you having a laugh? The evidence is staring you in the face. I want a report on my desk by the end of the week that clearly implicates the Shinners in the terrorist attack on me."

"But, Tanaiste . . ."

"Remember what happened to Callinan? The knock on the door in the night?"

"But. . ."

"It's not that I mind all the jokes about my getting a soaking in Kilkenny. After all, I have a great sense of humour. Oh no, it's not myself I'm worried about, it's the lack of respect for the great office of State of which I'm merely the temporary guardian."

In the afternoon, the Dail reopens after our four-week Christmas break. Back to the cut and thrust of democratic debate. "What are you going to do about homelessness?" whines a Fianna Fail backbencher. "What are you going to do about the fact that your party crashed the economy?" I reply. No answer to that one. Oh, yes indeed.

WEDNESDAY

To the Guinness Storehouse to launch our jobs masterplan. Enda's choice of venue, the silly gobshite. It reminds everyone that this is where we launched our 2011 campaign, with the late Eamon Gilmore emoting about Frankfurt's way or Labour's way. And all those promises not to do this and that. And, of course, we wound up not alone doing this and that but the other as well.

"How did it go?" asks Alan Kelly afterwards. I mutter something about bloody Enda being unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery. Kelly chortles uncontrollably, the backstabbing prat.

Inevitably, my decision to appoint the old Labour crony David Begg to a five-year position worth a hundred grand is attacked for alleged cronyism.

Some people just don't get it. I know David to be the best person for the job. Besides, it's only cronyism when Fianna Fail do it.

"Hello, Tanaiste," says Pearse Doherty when I bump into him in a corridor.

"You'll be telling me next," says I, "that Gerry Adams was never in the IRA!"

The nerve of some people.

THURSDAY

A UN committee attacks us for our so-called neglect of children's welfare. And an EU outfit mimics the Fiscal Advisory Council in accusing us of trying to buy votes. The Shinners' tentacles are everywhere.

In the Dail, Stephen Donnelly is droning on about how we're guilty of "political budgeting". Baldy bastard.

FRIDAY

Still no sign of the Guards coming up with the evidence to make the Scuba Shinners accountable. Of course, the Guards are riddled with Fianna Failers. And where there's Fianna Failers, well, you can be sure that You-Know-Who can't be far away.

I spend the evening canvassing. "Apathy is the great danger," I tell my supporters. "Too many people feel turned off by politics, deriding politicians as tired, cynical hacks. By not bothering to vote, such people make a mockery of the ideals of the 1916 Rising. You must convince them of one crucial fact: not voting is a vote for Sinn Fein."

It's going well, the election. Oh, yes indeed.

* As imagined by Gene Kerrigan

Sunday Independent

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