Friday 21 October 2016

My week: Pearse Doherty

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke

Monday: You may say I'm a schemer, but according to the latest opinions I'm not the only one. Sinn Fein's up again by four points. Not that we take any notice of polls. Except when they tell us exactly what we want to hear.

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This is the first week in ages we won't have to face questions about Gerry's leadership, after we finally got him to publicly admit he won't be in charge forever. Now we can concentrate on holding ministers to account for their crimes against the poor and needy, such as actually making decisions they can be held accountable for, rather than sitting in the wings, sniping, like we do.

Tomorrow in Doll Eireann, I'll be getting my teeth into the finance minister at the Budget Oversight Committee. That's the one you've never heard of because the limelight's being hogged by those prima donnas at the Public Accounts Committee.

Obviously I'm not talking about Mary Lou. I'm not a bit jealous of all the attention she gets for her star turns at the PAC, even if it was me who pointed out to the other parties that they'd got their sums wrong during the last election. I've been dining out on it ever since.

Still, a good show tomorrow won't do my career any harm, though if I've said it once I've said it a thousand times - I have no interest in being SF leader. Even I've almost started to believe me.

But never say never. Who better to put a leash on the Belfast hard men who really run SF than someone who sounds like a slightly more virile Daniel O'Donnell? All together now - "I just wanna finance with you..."

Tuesday: There he is - Michael Noonan. Mumbling representative of all that's wrong with Irish politics.

Which, when you think about it, makes our failure to come close to getting rid of this Government during the worse recession on record even more woeful. How bad must we be if the voters still prefer this lot to us?

True to form, he tells me not to be "so haughty" as I quiz him about plans to cut the Universal Social Charge.

I think he must be mistaking me for my colleague Eoin O Broin, who's never yet met an opponent that he didn't look down on coldly and contemptuously through his pretend proletarian steel-rimmed glasses.

I'm not the haughty one. I'm the angry one. I prove it by raising my voice and scowling. I once got a gold medal at a Feis in Gweedore for my scowling. That shows I care more than everyone else about the Irish people.

Apart, that is, from the 86 out of every 100 Irish people who keep stubbornly refusing to vote for our brand of the same populist politics that's turned Greece into an economic basket case.

I tell the minister that he's wrecked the country. Not like SF which is in government in the North, passing austerity budgets that make Noonan look like Father Christmas. Thank God no one down here takes any notice of what goes on up there, or they'd realise at once what a shower of two-faced chancers we are.

My morning's work done, I leave the Doll and head off to the Ploughing Championships in Offaly to take part in a debate entitled "Brexit, Irish Unity And Agriculture". And I bet you thought the Ploughing was meant to be fun?

I say "debate" but this is a SF shindig so there's not what you'd call a wide range of views. Together we promise the usual 100 million on this and a billion on that. It doesn't matter. It's not as if we'll ever be in power.

At the end of a hard day's work, I finally put up my feet and switch on the TV, only to see Gerry's gormless face leering out at me from the screen. The BBC in Belfast is alleging that our dear leader personally authorised the assassination of an informer in my neck of the woods in 2006.

Here we go again. Is it any wonder that I'm getting more grey hairs on my temples every day? I grab the phone and call party HQ.

"You know that plan we have for getting Gerry to bog off? Is there any chance of bringing it forward?"

Wednesday: Party members are busy all day defending Gerry. We say the allegations are rubbish, even though none of us actually has a clue if they're rubbish or not. Being in a political party means never having to say sorry for your leader.

We say that the BBC can't be trusted, even though we were praising it to the skies a few weeks ago for that programme on Nama. We also say that the whole thing has obviously been concocted by MI5, which is ironic considering that most of the lads up in West Belfast seem to have been working for the Brits all along anyway.

Finally, we do what we always do and try to change the subject by getting one of our TDs, whose name even I can't remember, to release a statement on mobile phone roaming charges. No one notices. Including us.

Thursday: Can we please talk about something other than Gerry now please?

Apparently not. Once again we spend the day making excuses for him while he sits at home playing with his rubber ducks and yelling: "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me." We're not his colleagues these days so much as his full-time carers.

I don't get a chance all day to mention that time during the election when I told the other finance spokesmen that their figures were wrong. I may have mentioned it before.

Don't worry if you didn't catch it. Like denials of wrongdoing from Gerry Adams, it doesn't matter if you miss one because there'll be another one along soon.

I was going to say "like Dublin buses" but that's not strictly true at the moment. If only we were in power, we'd have this mess sorted out in no time by doubling drivers' wages.

How would we pay for it? The same way all those IRA men paid for holiday homes in Donegal - with magic beans.

Friday: Loyal to the last, Mary Lou dismisses the allegations against Gerry as a "ball of smoke".

We Shinners are talking balls again. Some things never change.

*As imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon

Sunday Independent

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