Rome is burning while our politicians fiddle. Or fiddle about, anyhow. Britain is stirring the Brexit pot and no-deal is back on the menu. Meanwhile our political leaders casually tell us we must be patient while they take their time weighing up the whos and hows, the ifs and maybes of government formation.
It is three weeks since election day and progress towards government formation is dawdling. No sense of urgency is apparent. Even as the British backslide on their Brexit promises. And it's not just Brexit posing risks - flooding and the coronavirus are danger zones.
Boris Johnson's administration is shaping up to dismantle the joint declaration setting out the framework for the future EU-British relationship - and the focus of our political leaders is elsewhere.
They are sighing, wringing their hands and looking into their hearts, wondering if they can steel themselves to enter government or not.
The Brexit soundtrack, muted for a while but with the volume up on "high" now, means instability ahead. But nothing seems capable of galvanising Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They have ruled out coalition with Sinn Féin and shy away from the idea of another general election, but can't quite bring themselves to take the only viable step that remains - inevitable though it looks.
The national interest requires a government - not a caretaker government - but progress is at a snail's pace and self-indulgent in the extreme. No wonder party loyalty is a thing of the past.
Michael Gove turned up the heat under the Brexit pot with his categorical "there will be no border down the Irish Sea" assurance in the House of Commons on Thursday. Is it possible he's speaking the truth? Or is he reaching for alternative facts which bear little relation to factual facts? And wasn't that all meant to be settled by the revised Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Withdrawal Agreement, due to come into operation at the end of 2020?
A worrying development, you might think. But not troublesome enough for parties to speed up the rate at which they consider government formation. Fine Gael has yet to appoint a negotiating team. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil haven't even exchanged policy documents yet. Even with no-deal back on the table.
A lot of what the British are saying currently is for domestic consumption. It cannot be coincidental that negotiations with the EU start on Monday. Nevertheless there has been a shift in tone since Julian Smith was removed as secretary of state for Northern Ireland and Britain's Taskforce Europe unit began limbering up.
What are we to make of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to give Mr Gove his full Ruritanian-style title, insisting there'll be no border in the Irish Sea?
It's possible he is playing with 'alternative facts'. Or he may be indulging in a little creative interpretation - checks, schmecks, they don't really count here. Or he may be convinced there will be no deal and consequently no wet border between Britain and the North.
A hard border, with all the negative repercussions for people on both sides of it, is the reality of what's at stake. Yet still our political leaders dither about coalition.
By contrast, the British are decisive about their Brexit aims. They want a Canada-style deal, they say. This will mean some trade friction so businesses need to prepare.
But Britain is claiming it is ready to go for World Trade Organisation rules if the Canada option is ruled out - no-deal by another name.
On the face of it, this WTO talk is nonsense. British business would bear the full brunt of tariffs and lose out on access to 450 million customers in the EU. But the Tories have the parliamentary numbers to do as they choose. Say what you like about them, they are highly motivated.
Clearly, the British are altering their position on the Border, without the brake imposed by their parliament in its previous incarnation, and all of us on this island will be affected. A great deal of uncertainty lies ahead. And what of our political leaders, are they so busy carving up ministries that some of what's happening is passing them by?
Consider recent speeches. Mr Gove's remarks in the House of Commons sounded suspiciously like a signal that no-deal is on the way. Arguably, impending trade talks are for public consumption. The narrative may well go as follows: we tried, truly we did, but the dastardly Europeans were unreasonable.
He warned the EU that Britain would walk away from talks in June unless there was a "broad outline" of a free trade agreement in place, capable of being concluded in September. The British are painting red lines already - and while we all know how watery the last ones turned out, danger does lie ahead.
Britain's Brexit negotiator David Frost spoke in Brussels recently, insisting London would not accept level-playing-field rules imposed by the EU - even if it meant losing out on access to the single market. The tone suggested the possibility of negotiations collapsing before year end, when the transition period finishes.
Yet more chest-thumping? Or a sign a crash-out Brexit wouldn't upset the Johnson administration? It's packed with hard Brexiteers, after all. Although nobody so far on the British side is using no-deal language. Deliberately so.
As for their Irish counterparts, they are preoccupied with party destiny meditations and the gravity of the situation may be bypassing them. But it's the British bargaining ploy once again.
Former minister Theresa Villiers contorted herself into all sorts of shapes to avoid saying "no-deal" on BBC Radio 5 Live recently. She was at such pains to sidestep it, there could be no coincidence.
Ms Villiers denied that failing to strike a trade deal amounted to a no-deal scenario, insisting an exit treaty with the EU had been agreed covering citizens' rights and the divorce payment. "The risks and potential issues are not nearly as great as they were," she said, although they look fraught from the Irish perspective.
No-deal injures Northern Ireland and the Republic. It's damaging for Britain, too - not least because the powerful Irish-American Washington lobby says the United States won't strike a trade deal with Britain if the Good Friday Agreement is compromised.
That wriggly, higgledy-piggledy Border is where no-deal may happen, or where the Tories may pull back from the brink. But Anglo-centric chest-thumping aside, it's either a border in the Irish Sea with checks to protect the single market - or no-deal.
Anglo-centric chest-thumping isn't edifying, of course.
But, frankly, it pales in comparison with Hibernian navel-gazing.