Monday 20 November 2017

When it comes to living on Planet Bertie, charisma is not always refreshing

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

It was John Gormley, leader of the Greens, who coined the phrase 'Planet Bertie' in a fiery anti-Fianna Fail speech at his party conference in February 2007. "It's a strange place, Planet Bertie. So strange and so alien to our sensibilities, that it's a planet that we Greens would like to avoid," he declared to cheers.

But within four months, the irresistible gravitational pull of Planet Bertie had drawn them in, to orbit around a three-term Taoiseach as a coalition satellite. However, John Gormley need feel no chagrin, for Planet Bertie beckoned to many people as a nice place to dwell.

In fact, and in hindsight, it was a celestial body not unlike Pluto: both have friendly-sounding names and both are a mixture of ice and cuddly-looking heart-shaped topography, with a shifting surface seemingly unscathed by hurtling rocks. And despite being the subjects of intense scrutiny, both planets still remain remote, unknowable, but oddly fascinating.

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