Tuesday 27 September 2016

My Week: Pat Rabbitte* * As imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath
Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath

Pat Rabbitte's week (as imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon)

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SUNDAY

Off to Newstalk to review the papers for The Sunday Show. I'm here so often these days that George Hook asks if I have my own office. "Yes," I say. "Yours." He guffaws loudly before stopping suddenly and asking if I'm joking.

I must get him on my new radio show when… ahem, I mean if... it starts. I'll have my people call his people. Isn't that what you tend to do when you're an in-demand media personality?

On air, I'm asked about Enda Kenny's dull speech to the Fine Gael ard fheis. "I did find it hard not to nod off all right," I quip. I'm good at quipping. If quips were euros, I'd be a millionaire. Though, of course, I soon might be once all these pensions kick in.

If I'd been half as good at being a minister as I am at talking, I'd be revered as one of the great statesmen of our time rather than Irish politics' answer to Les Dawson. All the same, I've held some of the highest offices in the land, from junior minister to president. Of the Galway Students' Union, but it still counts.

I'm on top form all morning. I lambaste Fianna Fail. I lambaste the loony left. I then complete the set by having a fight with a Shinner. I do love attacking subversives for their crazy ideas about running the country, despite the fact I used to have many of the same ideas myself once.

MONDAY

I begin the day with a boiled egg and some soldiers. Isn't that what you tend to do during breakfast? It's now been almost 24 hours since I was last on radio or TV, but I have learned how to control the withdrawal symptoms. You just arrange to get back on air as quickly as possible before they forget you.

Thankfully, TV3 calls to ask if I'll appear on Tonight with Vincent Browne later in the week to reflect on my 27 years as a TD. "Try stopping me," I reply.

TUESDAY

I start working on my farewell speech to the Dail. I would have liked to end my career in Cabinet, but Joan put paid to that by replacing me as minister for communications with Alex White. I tried protesting at the time. "Sure, isn't that what you tend to do during reshuffles?" she replied.

I only hope voters in Dublin West give her what she deserves. By which I mean another Dail term. I am nothing if not loyal.

WEDNESDAY

Got the speech finished at last. I'd have been quicker but I had to spend a few hours in front of the mirror practising my "disappointed you asked me that question, Vincent" face for tomorrow.

THURSDAY

My final speech to the Dail. "What are you up to today?" I ask Joe Higgins when I bump into him in the canteen. "Making my final speech to the Dail," he declares. I swear someone did this just to ruin my big day.

Finally get my chance to rise and address the house on the Banking Inquiry, so naturally I begin by having a fatuous pop at Stephen Donnelly. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I advise the next government to take legal action against the European Central Bank for twice threatening Ireland to stop us imposing a haircut on senior bondholders, following in the long line of politicians who urge their successors to be more radical than they ever dared to be themselves.

I couldn't even stand up to RTE when they made a hames of that presidential debate with Sean Gallagher.

I say the government of which I was a proud part was committed to burden sharing that would have saved the Irish Exchequer nearly €15bn. I do not point out that we didn't actually do it, because that would have been too hard. But then isn't that what you tend to do during farewell speeches to the Dail?

My words are greeted warmly. I take it as a sign of the respect in which I am held by my fellow parliamentarians, though it could just be that they're relieved to see the back of me, haranguing them every time they try to speak.

I conclude by urging another referendum to allow the Dail to hold full inquiries, like the one I oversaw in 2011. Now I'm no longer around to annoy voters with my aggressive sense of entitlement, it might even get passed.

I head to TV3, only to find that, not only is Vincent not there tonight, but I also have to share the next hour with some Fianna Failer too young to know how important I am. I call him a "boy" to remind viewers of my legendary wit. He says not to patronise him, but why should he be treated differently to the rest of Ireland? That's FF for you.

FRIDAY

On Morning Ireland, I criticise certain voters for "generally being a pain in the ass". This is the sort of thing you can say when you don't have to ask for their support at the ballot box any more.

I then make the mistake of checking Twitter to see what's being said about me, and am reminded of that time I rightly tried to pass a bill putting manners on the great unwashed on social media. I console myself with the thought that, unlike them, I have a blue tick. I'm not sure exactly what that means but Barack Obama has one too so I must be hugely influential.

Someone of a more self-critical bent might wonder if they themselves had helped provoke the rampant hostility in which politicians are now held, but I'd rather just feel sorry for myself. I resolve to make a start on my autobiography. I think I'll call it The Man With A Quip On His Shoulder. * As imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon

Sunday Independent

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