Et tu, Enda? Julius John gets a knifing
PERHAPS it was his proximity to the scene of Julius Caesar's bloody demise – the historic spot is only a short chariot-ride from the Palazzo Chigi where the Taoiseach was meeting the Italian Prime Minister – but the Cassius of Castlebar plunged his dagger into the back of the PAC chairman without a moment's hesitation.
Enda had been asked about the latest round of revelations concerning Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, who, as well as having a penchant for Proust and a soft spot for soft bog-roll, also once harboured the fond belief that the taxpayer should foot the bill for ministerial spouses to travel – as he argued at some length in a 2007 email to a civil servant while he was a junior minister and wanted to bring his wife on a trip abroad.
And so, given that the deputy heads up the powerful Dail public spending watchdog, did the Taoiseach believe that the shenanigans of its chairman were damaging to the committee?
Well, when in Rome – Enda reckoned it was the perfect opportunity to Carpe Diem (seize the day), and immediately began carping about the uxorious deputy.
"I do think they're damaging," he said firmly. "I haven't seen all the details of this, but it leads me to believe that it smacks of traces of the abuse and arrogance that we inherited after 14 years of mismanagement," he added, sticking in the blade with gusto.
Now this imbroglio is a gift from the gods for the government parties who have watched with what must be growing dismay as the Soldiers of Destiny have recovered from their rout just over two years ago and staged a comeback (in the opinion polls, at least) as miraculous as when Hannibal marched an army of elephants over the Alps and rattled the Romans.
And now here was a golden opportunity to remind all and sundry of the imperial rule of Fianna Fail who had an unfortunate tendency in their pomp to exude an arrogant aura that their party had something of a divine right to power. Moreover, there was more than a touch of bread (dosh) and circuses (the property market) about the Celtic Tiger era, until the spendthrift emperors threw the populace to the lions.
So the Taoiseach didn't stint at putting Micheal Martin in that most fearsome of forums – the forum of public opinion.
"I think it's an issue now that the Fianna Fail leader has to reflect on," he reckoned, knowing full well that a country full of peed-off plebs is all too ready to give the thumbs-down to any displays of arrogance from politicians – even if they did hark back to the golden age.
And the Castlebar Cassius took full advantage of his surroundings to make his point, invoking the ghost of Pompeia, the second wife of Julius Caesar, who found herself divorced after a spot of bother.
"I know I'm in Rome, and the old saying is that Caesar's wife has to be above reproach," he declared.
Poor Julius John. Perhaps if he feels wronged, he can utter the anguished words of the just-stabbed Roman emperor, as played with relish by Kenneth Williams in 'Carry On Cleo' – "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me . . ."