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Usual service from men who would be kings

And so in the manner of a Christmas Day wartime soccer game, normal hostilities have been suspended while we all get together for the comfortable affectionate dance that is a general election. Suddenly politicians are able to put aside the awful reality of running a country into the ground, to focus instead on their own reality, that of politicking.

They are promising us a new kind of politics this time. The reality is that a somewhat dull campaign has only been enlivened so far by Enda Kenny's spirited refusal to be a sidekick in Vincent Browne's panto of sighing and haranguing. And then of course there were the isms -- sexism, ageism, and of course the schism between the favoured coalition parties.

Politicians around the country will have been high-fiving last weekend as it emerged the people who have been telling them how to run the country couldn't even get it together to put themselves forward to run the country. Eamon Dunphy, Fintan O'Toole and the other angry middle- aged men of the Democracy Now movement admitted that 'Now' was actually a bit soon for them. They had apparently been caught offside by the allegedly unexpected election.

They were caught offside too by Elaine Byrne on the first edition of RTE's lively The Eleventh Hour. Dunphy and O'Toole came on to explain why they wouldn't, after all, have time to prove they were better than all our politicians. The two lads were clearly expecting the kind of free ride they normally get in radio and TV studios so they were somewhat taken aback that their fellow panelist Byrne, who had been approached to run for Democracy Now but judged correctly that it wasn't going to happen, decided to express her disappointment in them. They were just more angry middle-aged men, she ventured.

O'Toole, seemingly misunderstanding what sexism and ageism mean, accused her of sexism and ageism. Which you would expect from Fintan O'Toole. But no one expected to see Eamon Dunphy whining about sexism and ageism. He also seemed to believe that calling someone who is a man a man is sexism.

As for the ageism, calling Dunphy middle-aged was not ageism, it was what is known as a compliment. And then Byrne needled at Dunphy until he went off, clearly unhappy at being quizzed by, as he called her, "a young woman".

Byrne got Dunphy to reveal himself in a way that a lot of people won't forget. And they say women know nothing about offside.

Meanwhile there was real sexism on display from Pat Rabbitte, when he dismissed Averil Power and some of the other more fragrant members of Micheal Martin's front bench as good-looking women you might meet on Grafton Street and ask if they would like to be in a photograph.

It was a telling moment, where Rabbitte let slip that in his mind, and maybe in lefty circles in general, you are clearly either a good-looking woman or one who can do her job. If he got into power he might find that in Europe he may need to deal with women who are both good-looking and capable. Would his old-fashioned lefty brain be able to take it?

Sunday Independent