Long campaign ahead as deputies squabble
IT took precisely five minutes for the first referendum row to break out in the Dail yesterday afternoon after the Taoiseach announced that just what the electorate needed was another trip to the polls.
Immediately, Shane Ross and Joe Higgins scurried outside for an argument about who would speak on this important matter on behalf of their gang.
After a bit of hand-waving, the duo returned to the chamber and it was clear Shane had got the nod. Joe didn't look happy. (But then he's rarely a ray of sunshine at the best of times).
And sure enough when the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett called on Shane to speak, Joe also sprang to his feet.
The two standing deputies had a bit of a stand-off, with neither one prepared to sit down.
"The referees are on strike," observed Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley, while on the Government side Pat Rabbitte reckoned, "the technical group is voting 'Maybe'".
Mr Barrett failed to see the funny side of it, commanding Mr Ross to get on with it. But Mr Higgins stood firm.
Shane tried to offer an olive branch, beginning his speech by remarking that he welcomed the referendum "on behalf of the technical group -- all of it".
But Joe didn't crack a smile. Uh-oh. This could be one helluva long campaign.