Monday 26 September 2016

My Week: Micheal Martin

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Monday: Who's the most cunning, ruthless and devious of them all now, Charlie? We're not supposed to mention the great man's name these days, but I lit a little candle for him at Mass yesterday. I know he's up there somewhere, looking down on us all. Or possibly down there, looking up.

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I think now might be the time to start slipping his name into the national conversation again. Subtle, like. The way the Tories did with Margaret Thatcher when they finally returned to power a few years back.

Before heading out the door, I remind myself not to look too triumphant in case anyone from the Irish Times is hanging around outside. They practically think I should be saying sorry for having had a good election. But it's hard not to look a bit smug when you've got the face of one of those nice priests who always seems a bit apologetic about telling you you're going to Hell for having naughty thoughts. My face just tends to glow naturally from within.

Today I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio. Not the one who drowned because yer wan who got her kit off wouldn't budge up on that raft and give him a lift. I mean the one in that new film The Revenant, who was left to die after being mauled by a grizzly bear, only to return from the dead, hunt down everyone who abandoned him, and take his revenge.

For that performance, DiCaprio won last weekend's Oscar for Best Actor, just like the one Eamon O Cuiv's going to win later this week when we bump into one another in Leinster House and he tries telling me how he always believed in me.

Word comes through that Averil Power has been eliminated from the count in Dublin Bay North. "Micheal Martin is not an effective leader," she said. "Micheal Martin has become a leader without any followers," she said. FF under his stewardship "lacks vision, courage and leadership", she said.

I call her up to commiserate. Nah, only kidding.

The day goes swimmingly until that evening, when Eamon Dunphy pops up on Claire Byrne Live to announce that he's now One Of Us. Just when things were ticking over nicely, too. Dunphy's support is the kiss of death to any cause. Sinn Fein were on course for victory before he started backing them a while ago. I worry briefly before remembering that no one takes him seriously any more anyway.

Tuesday: The fun is over. Now the serious business of negotiating a new government begins. Obviously I'd rather stick Enda back in and then wait until he makes another hames of it and we can mop up at the next election, but softly, softly, catchee monkey.

I at once send word to despatch Willie O'Dea on media duty to buy us some time to decide on the best strategy. He looks good on the telly, I'll give him that. I swear his moustache is perkier than it's ever been. I wonder if we could persuade him to add his tache to the ticket come the next election. He's always been reluctant to have a running mate, but with a majority FF government on the cards next time round, a second seat in Limerick for that lip rug should be a dead cert. I make a note to get a new bazzer for the return of the Dail. Don't want to be upstaged by the auld silver fox.

Wednesday: Everyone wants to know if the abolition of water charges is one of our red line issues for supporting a FG minority government. Barry Cowen put his foot in it by saying it was. Simon Coveney put an even bigger foot in it by saying FG was ready to haggle. The trick is not to alienate those who've paid their bills while pleasing those who haven't. No problem. Being all things to all men has been the FF way for generations.

I insist we put Dail reform right at the top of the agenda, because FF has only been in power for 61 of the last 84 years and there just wasn't the time to do it then.

Thursday: Up for the FF parliamentary party meeting. I'm cheered to the rafters as I enter. The place is jointed. I've never seen so many happy TDs since the last lock in at the Dail bar.

I make contact with the Healy-Raes to see what price they're asking in return for supporting my nomination as Taoiseach. Unfortunately, my team forgot to bring a translator so I've no idea what they said. For some reason, whenever I see them I always think of that old group The Wurzels. I start humming that song of theirs: "I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key."

Danny and Michael instantly spit on their palms and call it a deal. "Have you got any anti-bacterial wipes?" I say afterwards, trying not to let my soggy hand touch my nice new suit.

Friday: I get on with the job of putting together the ultimate rainbow coalition. There'll be so many colours, it'll look as if there's been an explosion in an M&Ms factory. Speaking of explosions, word reaches the Shinners that I intend seizing power from FG. A visitor from Belfast sidles up in the corridor and says: "Now you're talking. I'll call the boys in South Armagh right away and see what we can do."

"That's not what I meant," I reply. "I intend to do it constitutionally."

"You Southerners are no fun," he mutters as he walks away. Just think - this time next week I might be Taoiseach. Though what the heck am I going to do then?

As imagined by Eilis O'Hanlon

Sunday Independent

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