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Sunday 19 November 2017

It's relocation, relocation, relocation for some TDs -- and 'Baywatch' for the rest

That naughty bodice-ripper 'Fifty Shades of Grey' may be flying off Irish bookshelves like pints over a free bar, but in Leinster House yesterday it was a publication of an entirely different kind which had the politicians' eyes out on sticks.

There were a few heaving bosoms, mind, when the much-anticipated/feared Constituency Commission Report was unleashed just after 10am.

The chests of some TDs were heaving in pure relief that their patch had remained untouched, but others were undulating in terror at the discovery that large swathes of their precious electoral turf had evaporated like Anglo's loot.

There was an eerie silence during the morning's Leaders' Questions.

Not that anyone was paying attention to the Tanaiste -- Eamon Gilmore could have threatened to invade the Shetlands and nobody would have noticed. Every head in the chamber was buried in the green-covered book, desperate firstly to find out their own fate, and secondly, to ascertain the (hopefully dreadful) fate of their enemies.

And like any good bestseller, there were unexpected plot twists.

Dublin South was a right shocker -- it was on the sharp end of what a reeling Olivia Mitchell described as "a butchering". Five seats down to three -- and a large chunk of Labour TD Alex White's vote has vamoosed into Dublin South-West. Fine Gael now has three seats in a three-seater, so something's got to give.

Could Alan Shatter relocate to Tallaght? Will Peter Mathews see off Shane Ross, or will it be pinstripes at dawn, come election time?

And now the capital has Dublin Bay South and Dublin Bay North.

Kevin Humphreys, formerly Dublin South East and now a South Bay boy declared happily as he bustled down the corridor: "I'm off to buy a Hawaiian shirt," even though beaches are a bit scarce in Ringsend. But this didn't stop a few wits suggesting that RTE's 'Oireachtas Report' should consider changing its name to 'Baywatch'.

Some TDs strapped on brave faces for the media.

Cork South Central has lost a seat, and Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath who will be scrapping against his leader, Micheal Martin in the constituency, was being very philosophical on the plinth.

"I came fifth on the last occasion, so clearly that won't be good enough to hold a seat next time," he admitted.

"But it's a long way away and if you worry about these things every day, you'd never get up every morning."

It wasn't just county borders that were rejoiced over or mourned -- it was down to streets, roads, housing estates -- hard-fought territories suddenly gifted to other deputies.

"I've lost Swords where I did really well last time. But I've got the Navan Road back, which is where I grew up," explained a largely content Joan Burton.

But alas, the Navan Road belonged to Paschal Donohoe who strived mightily to win a Fine Gael seat in Bertie's old domain last year. And now it's gone to Dublin West, along with Paschal's other cherished area of Drumcondra. There was general cross-party agreement that poor Paschal got hammered.

Although there were dark mutterings among the Opposition beforehand that Environment Minister Phil Hogan was going to sneakily settle scores by 'Philymandering' his enemies, it was all a bottle of smoke.

The Taoiseach's own county lost a seat, and the vibes of displeasure emanating from Fine Gael's Michael Ring were registering a high number on a Richter Scale in Kyrgyzstan.

Oh, but it's a huge deal altogether, Big Phil's Little Green Book. And for the flocks of political geeks inhabiting Leinster House and beyond who quiver at statistics and maps and dynastic permutations, this report is better than any novel filled with naked hussies.

Or maybe two Kerry (who else) denizens of Leinster House hit the literary nail on the head; strolling through the hubbub, one remarked to his colleague: "It's like being in a John B Keane play. 'Tis all about the land."

Irish Independent

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