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John Drennan: Break out scented candles, and Bertie

Amidst the darkness finally some small shards of political light emerge. And, oddly, the torch-bearers included a Biffo and a Kenny Lite in their numbers.

Strange times indeed, and a distinct improvement on the start of the week where the mood of the Dail resembled that of a small Balkan fascist state in 1944 where the vainglorious leader has gone missing, no one wants to replace him and "oh look, there go the Germans bailing out with all the gold".

One supposes that on the plus side in our case the Russians aren't coming, but as Frau Merkel and the IMF hover over the patient with a large bottle of fiscal castor oil, our options aren't much better.

There is little joy to be found in witnessing the liquidation of a previously independent state if you are not among the preferred creditors -- and once we go past those with guaranteed pensions, that list is fairly thin.

Instead, the country is now so consumed by despair we hear musings about how it would be marvellous if the Chinese came in, for they are mad for the agricultural land we have so much of these days and Ireland must still be a better bet for a bit of inward investment than Zimbabwe.

Happily, although up to last week Fianna Fail may have been a seething nest of vipers, now that it knows the finance figures, all of the party and the aspirant leaders apparently believe Mr Cowen is the best man to front the party when December's budget from Dante's Inferno is introduced.

And isn't it touching to know that the mood is also one of "oh, after you Mr Cowen. No, you first" when it comes to the next election? With friends like that -- well, you know the rest.

Ultimately, the sweetest moment of last week was provided by the sight of the Greens twisting Biffo's arm and getting a result. Of course, nothing was said about what on earth happened to change Mr Cowen's mind so completely about the cross-party forum.

In fairness to Biffo, his initial decision to stay growling in the cave was understandable -- for John Gormley had failed to even book the parish hall before announcing the meeting.

However, after three years of being spattered by the muck from Fianna Fail's Augean stables, Mr Gormley would have been more than entitled to put Mr Cowen in a political headlock and drag him, by the nose if necessary, out of that cave.

But if we're going to craft the fiscal equivalent of the Downing St Declaration it's time for Biffo to tell Bertie to get out of that closet and give the three parties a digout. No sniggering down the back, not that sort of digout.

The truth is, no one outside of Bertie has the capacity to persuade Enda, Biffo, Slieveen (oh sorry, you're not invited) and Mr Gilmore to hold hands around the scented candles and organic muesli being provided by the Vicar Eamon Ryan.

Surprisingly enough, the biggest loser of the week was "pink but perfect" Mr Gilmore -- for Kenny Lite was gracious in his acceptance of Biffo's less-than-special offer. In contrast, there was something very stale about Gilmore's "well, the first thing we need is an election" style response.

In fairness to the opposition, their decision not to join Mr Gormley's coalition of love was understandable in one regard. Consensus can be a fine and wonderful thing, but not if it consists of a confederacy of dunces.

Sunday Independent