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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Generals saved in phoney war


'OUTSPOKEN' Fianna Fail backbench deputies have always been a prime source of free comedy but even by their standards, their classic 'he who runs away may live to fight another day' stance on the Government's brave u-turn on pay cuts for the 600 top mandarins was special.

Before the FF parliamentary party meeting on the cosseting of the bureaucratic generals, Mattie 'the boy who cried wolf' McGrath raced down the mountain.

However, Brian Lenihan's decision to stand by the officer class meant poor Mattie suffered the biggest rout Ireland has seen since the battle of the Widow McCormack's cabbage patch.

Outside of this drama, the atmosphere in the Dail bore a curious resemblance to the phoney war of 1940. In spite of the failings of an opposition who have withdrawn behind a Maginot line of cod rhetoric in the expectation that doing nothing will be enough to win the war, the Sketch suspects the stasis is about to be replaced by serious gunfire.

Brian Lenihan can bluff all he wants but when it comes to our rogue banks, it is increasingly evident 'there is a hole in the Nama bucket, dear Biffo'.

Of course, Biffo won't want to hear anyone singing about it, for when it comes to 'with what shall we mend it', we're rapidly running out of gear.

Still, at least us 'unhappy few' who are 'backing Biffo beyond the point of inanity' can say our plans are working.

Indeed, the coincidence of Biffo's extended departure and another rise in FF's rating means we now believe it is time to implement the next phase of the strategy. After all, if support for FF goes through the roof every time Biffo leaves the country, imagine how popular they would be if we got rid of the Cabinet.

Biffo should follow the precedent set by de Gaulle and set up a government in exile. Somewhere north of Greenland would be perfect.

The good news continued for the Backing Biffo team courtesy of Enda Kenny's ongoing imitation of a blind man shooting at ducks. Enda still inflicts the occasional hit but it's always more down to luck than judgement.

This certainly occurred last week, where Cowen's claim in response to Lite's goading that "despair is not where the people are at" was undercut by an EU survey which revealed that 85 per cent of the population were in the horrors.

Enda should look at the recent positive exchanges between Olwyn Enright and Mary Hanafin, which have left us experiencing unnerving Women's Council-style sentiments about how the country might actually go better if the women were in charge. If Enda were to end the present contest of virility with Biffo, drop the banal insults, release his inner female and simply be constructive, that would utterly flummox Mr Cowen.

Happily, Brian Lenihan's Finance Bill confirmed that we have 'turned the corner' for the year is already five weeks old and we still haven't needed an emergency budget. With progress like that, all we have to do to secure the triumph of the strange school of Biffo Republicanism, where generous mandarins make the same sacrifices as greedy clerical officers, is to make sure we stick in it together . . . except for the levy-dodging judges, the Sir Humphreys, our ambassadors, bankers, HSE bureaucrats and university lecturers.

Doesn't it warm you to know that at least these special 600 generals will never 'ride in the valley of debt' with the rest of us as we struggle to save Biffo's dear banking pals.

Sunday Independent

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