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It's the Gerry and Micheál Show: but strictly for one performance only

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Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

The two men stood on the plinth, as incongruously shoulder-to-shoulder as, say, Munster's Paul O'Connell and England's Martin Johnson.

But then, politics is a sport like no other. Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams were singing beautifully from a shared hymn-sheet and at one juncture even finished each other's sentences, as a flock of amazed pigs flew over Leinster House.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and a gaggle of Independents had just staged a somewhat raggle-taggle walkout of the Dáil chamber over the decision of the Government not to hold a debate on the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into allegations of garda malpractice raised in the Guerin report.

The collective exit came at the end of a lengthy and ill-tempered wrangle which kicked off at the very beginning of the Order of Business.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett wasn't in the chair to deal with the Opposition flak yesterday who had a beef with his ruling on the issue - he was attending a Holocaust memorial service in Prague. So his deputy Michael Kitt was trying mightily, but failing utterly, to stop the initial grumbling from escalating into a full-bore brouhaha.

An increasingly frustrated and cranky Opposition were getting nowhere, and when a vote on whether to allow a debate was called, they all picked up their ball and marched out onto the plinth to air their grievances.

It was an odd sight to see the two party leaders peacefully but decidedly self-consciously sharing a doorstep interview together, surrounded by Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs.

The parties had previously staged a similar stalk-out over the Water Services Bill in 2013, but there had been no Gerry-Micheál duet then. "It was unacceptable," declared Micheál. "The Opposition were essentially being muzzled," he charged. "It was unacceptable," echoed Gerry a few minutes later. "There's a need to have a debate on this". It was all very amicable. So this may have been the first time that the two of them shared plinth-space, but would it be the last?

As political-watchers begin to play Coalition Jenga, could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Micheál referred back to the two parties' previous joint protest over the Water Bill, pointing out that "the Government rued the day they rammed that through - and that's all you're seeing today, and nothing more than that," he smiled grimly.

Gerry looked stoic. He's a patient man. He'll just take it one joint doorstep at a time.

Irish Independent