| 8°C Dublin

Lise Hand: It's not elementary for John, as case of missing conversation goes unsolved

John Gormley was emitting sufficient levels of simmering stress and pent-up frustration to be detected by the orbiting International Space Station.

"We're not Sherlock Holmes," he declared in a tone of rising exasperation. And in fairness, even the pipe-smoking resident of 221b Baker Street might find the 'Mysterious Case of the Missing Conversation' a tough nut to crack.

For last weekend the Green Gumshoe was dramatically presented with not so much a case of Whodunit as with a riddle of Whosaidwhat.

And the puzzle didn't take place on a dark and stormy night, but on a summer's day in July 2008 when the newly crowned Taoiseach and Seanie FitzPatrick -- the former Anglo boss now widely regarded as a greater arch-villain even than the dastardly Moriarty himself -- played a round of golf and then shared a bit of grub at Druid's Glen golf club.

No crime in that, of course. However, the problem lies in the fact that despite being handed various opportunities over the past two-and-a-half years to do so, Brian Cowen failed to mention this jolly day out to his colleagues in the Dail, let alone his junior partners in government.

Moreover, when the get-together was dramatically unveiled in Seanie's book, both men were adamant the A-word (Anglo) didn't come up in conversation.

And this despite the fact the bank was well on its way to becoming the most infamous financial cock-up in the history of the State.

Poor John Gormley. It's bad enough that he and his band of barnacles are still stuck grimly to the disintegrating hull of the Fianna Fail man'o'war, now the Greens were aghast to find themselves being sucked into a Seanie-shaped brouhaha.

And so, instead of spending a couple of days happily preparing for the party's think-in in Malahide, John was forced to turn detective and try to get to the bottom of the 'Case of the Missing Conversation'.

But he was no Sherlock Holmes (and being the party leader behind the banning of stag-hunting, John naturally shied away from sporting a Sherlock-style deerstalker hat).

Instead it was a most unhappy detective who faced a crowded room of hopped-up media in the Grand Hotel in Malahide yesterday.

"We did get our programme manager to make phone calls to the secretary general of the Department of Finance and ... we're not Sherlock Holmes, we've done what we can under the circumstances and we have found no evidence," said a disconsolate John.

A few times during the conference the frustration of Gormley the Green Gumshoe threatened to boil over -- once again a party think-in had been spoiled by Fianna Fail shenanigans.

"I find it very regrettable. The last time we met as a group you'll recall at the last think-in, we were talking about what's referred to as Garglegate," he sighed. "Now we're talking about Golfgate. We want to talk about policy," he wailed.

And then to add an extra insult, Sinn Fein councillors Larry O'Toole and Dessie Ellis marched into the hotel and right up to the door of the Green's conclave, demanding (very politely) that the Greens quit Government.

It was all a bit of a 'Father Ted' 'down with this sort of thing' protest. Larry remonstrated genteelly with the Green's press officer and a garda detective at the door.

"The Green party think-in isn't going to save the country at this stage," remarked Larry to the stony-faced duo and an amused press pack.

Are the Greens really that clueless? The answer is surely elementary, dear Watson.

Irish Independent