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A pact between FG and FF will leave Joan jilted

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Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny

Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny

Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny

There is something of the shotgun wedding about the latest proposed alliance. While Simon Coveney is the latest family member to rush out and buy a hat in anticipation of Fine Gael pledging their troth to Fianna Fáil, the purported bride and groom look fair set to be dragged kicking and roaring to the altar.

Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin show little sign of being smitten with the prospect of becoming political bedfellows after the next election, should a potential coalition beckon. The Agriculture Minister may be arranging himself like a Corkonian Siren on the rocks in the hope of luring unwary Soldiers of Destiny to his lair, but some of his disgruntled colleagues are muttering that he's struck a bum note.

And the greatest collection of noses out of joint resides on the Labour benches which are gripped by the fear of a post-election sundering from their current partner. There is muttering that their party leader is allowing Fine Gael raise its skirt to other parties and to the voters with the promise of good times ahead, which can only end in electoral tears for Jilted Joan.

On 'Morning Ireland' yesterday, junior Labour Minister Aodhan O'Riordain was less than amused by the preceding coy interviews with Simon Coveney, followed by Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley who had thrown more shapes than a Spirograph set when pressed whether the most historic union since that of the Houses of Capulet and Montague was a possibility, muttering about "fundamental differences".

Aodhan was less than bowled over. "It's more than a year out from the next general election; if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael want to play footsie with each other on your programme, there's not much I can do about that," he sniped.

Alas, by the time Leaders' Questions rolled around in the afternoon, it was clear that neither Enda nor Micheal were ready to take the plunge (yet), with the Fianna Fail leader berating the Taoiseach over the potential closures of nursing homes.

A chilly Micheal accused Enda of "not telling the truth" (which in parliament-speak isn't as confrontational as accusing someone of telling lies) and of providing "meaningless" answers.

"What is really going on behind the scenes?" he wondered. (He's not the only one wondering that, in fairness).

Nor was the Taoiseach in the mood to woo the enemy. "Your sense of righteousness is extraordinary," he sniffed.

So that's going well then, Simon.

There was no sign in the Dail chamber of the various deputies who have been flying kites about alliances to beat the band such as Simon or Leo Varadkar on one side, or John McGuinness on the other side.

Ironically, the two did share a bit of banter a little later, courtesy of that great advocate of coalitions, Charlie Haughey. During a bit of synchronised shouting from the opposition, Enda was asked if he had watched the TV drama, 'Charlie'.

He grinned over at a nonplussed Micheal. "I only saw a bit of it, I saw enough. I was here during the time," he pointed out pointedly, with almost 40 years in the Dail under his belt).

Enda pondered a minute more. "I was around for all that happened, I think, except for the demolition of the bird, the delights that took place under the table-cloth over the man's head," he added, referring to the unforgettable ortolan-eating scene in the drama.

Micheal just returned a small, unhappy smile, in the absence of a tablecloth to place over his own head at that precise moment.

The third person in this tale of intrigue - and potential betrayal - appeared in the Dáil chamber later in the day. Joan Burton (left) delivered her speech on (the irony) the peace negotiations in the North.

"There is now a basis for all parties to work together to overcome shared challenges," she said.

Fine and true words. But Joan has troubles of her own to sort out, and pronto, before Simon orders the flowers and books the band.

Irish Independent