Friday 22 February 2019

A new year, new parties and a new Dail

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Bertie Ahern and Mary McAleese
Lucinda Creighton and Michael McDowell
Leo Varadkar

Lise Hand

Lise Hand looks back on the political year that was...

JANUARY

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter becomes the star of TV3's 'The Restaurant', serving up Fricassee of Enda with Sweetbreads Siochana.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett resigns in a huff and joins Fossett's Circus, seeking "a bit of peace and quiet". Lucinda Creighton hints at starting up a new party.

FEBRUARY

Severe gales along the East coast destroy the glass domed roof of the Dail chamber. Happily, it occurs during a debate on gender equality in politics so nobody was injured, bar a handful of women TDs.

Shane Ross launches his Stickies Toffee Party (full of disaffected Old Labour and Independent toffs). Lucinda strongly hints she will start a new party.

MARCH

The British PM attends the Ireland v England Six Nations match in Lansdowne Road and Enda takes the disappointed David Cameron to Coppers afterwards to drown his sorrows and dance with some nice nurses.

The Fennelly Report into the murky events surrounding the exit last year of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is published, leading to lots of shouting in the Dail, and lots of muttering in the corridors.

Lucinda holds a press conference to announce she may be launching a party some time soon.

APRIL

The Government launches its same-sex referendum campaign in Panti Bar on Capel Street.

The coalition springs a 'spring statement' on the electorate, dangling goodies in the autumn budget in the shape of tax cuts.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice launches the Turf'n'Surf party which will run candidates from Roscommon and counties along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Lucinda is spotted drinking lattes in a Ranelagh hostelry with Michael McDowell.

MAY

The same-sex marriage referendum passes after a torrid month-long campaign. Enda appears on a Village People-themed float in the subsequent Victory Parade past the GPO.

Singer Sinead O'Connor quits Sinn Fein and sets up a continuity party named Throw Down Your Arms after her 2005 album of the same name, and invites Mary Lou to join as leader.

Lucinda and fellow Reform Alliance comrade Peter Mathews have a row. Peter hints at starting a new party.

JUNE

Grainy mobile phone footage emerges of what appears to be a clandestine tete-a-tete between two politicians in a cosy bar snug, sparking shocked speculation that an illicit relationship had blossomed across the Dail chamber. But the evidence is unmistakeable - it clearly shows Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin drinking pints and arguing over a document which looks suspiciously like a draft Programme for Government.

Eamon O Cuiv resigns from Fianna Fail and forms the Rocky De Valera party.

Lucinda signs a deal to do a fly-on-the-wall documentary for TV3 on putting together a ground-breaking political entity.

JULY

The Galway Tent returns to Ballybrit, privately funded by Bertie Ahern (who won the money for the marquee on a horse).

Gerry Adams's teddy-bear is kidnapped but, despite a tear-stained TV appeal from the Sinn Fein capo, Ted remains on the missing-list.

AUGUST

As a result of a two-month drought, Irish Water announces strict rationing, prohibiting the use of water to make tay. This sparks the Kettle Revolution, with 500,000 outraged Lyons and Barry's addicts storming Leinster House, baying for the head of the Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Fellow Tipp TD Mattie McGrath launches the Tea Party, inviting Lucinda to join because "women know lots about making tea".

SEPTEMBER

Skin and hair fly in Government Buildings during a furious showdown between the Taoiseach and Tanaiste, with a livid Joan accusing Enda of being politically unfaithful by snuggling up to Fianna Fail.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan resigns, and sets up the Michael Party, consisting of the 14 TDs in the Dail who are all called Michael. Lucinda complains that it "discriminates against women who aren't named Michael".

OCTOBER

Tanaiste and Finance Minister Joan Burton unveils the Budget, sparking furious rows in the Dail. Fine Gael cross the floor and vote with the opposition over a proposal to tax farmers' wellies, and the Government falls.

Enda resigns as Taoiseach and Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar decide to wrestle each other for the leadership of Fine Gael. Afterwards, while languishing on trolleys in A&E, Frances Fitzgerald is chosen to head up the party.

A general election is announced for November. Lucinda launches the Progressive Alliance of Reformed Christian Social Democrats - but she's too late to register her party before the snap election.

NOVEMBER

The country has never seen an election like it. With Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party (and the New Socialist Party, after a pre-election split), the Greens, People before Profit, the Turf'n'Surf, the Tea Party, the Stickies Toffee Party, the Throw Down your Arms Party, the Michael Party, the PARCSD, plus 500 Independent hopefuls vying for votes, candidates outnumber the electorate. No party wins a majority, and horse-trading begins. Newly-elected TD for Dublin Central Bertie Ahern donates his Ballybrit marquee as a neutral venue.

DECEMBER

On December 1, the 32nd Dail is convened, consisting of 60 members of the newly-formed Fianna Gael party, the 10 elected Turf'n'Surf TDs, two Stickies Toffee, seven Independents, including Dublin Bay South poll-topper Lucinda Creighton, and Bertie Ahern.

A week later, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald (well, a woman was hardly likely to get the big job, was she?) announce a revised Budget. Bertie votes against it and the Government falls.

A snap election is called for December 31. On December 24, the IMF's Ajai Chopra is spotted arriving at Dublin Airport.

Irish Independent

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