The way things are shaping up in domestic politics, Micheál Martin may be relieved to get to Brussels next Friday for his first EU summit. But frying pans and fires come to mind.
Martin's first foray into EU-land - and the first face-to-face gathering of the leaders since February 21, when coronavirus was still a vague threat - could not be bigger and more vital to Ireland. This one is about the Brexit end-game, economic aid to rebuild the coronavirus-shattered economies, and a longer-term, seven-year EU budget plan for the years 2021-2027.
All three issues are interlinked and important to all 27 EU member states. But the problem is that many of the countries have different priorities on all three issues. So, a deal will be hard to come by and smaller states like Ireland are especially vulnerable.
On Brexit, about the only thing the EU and UK can agree on right now is that they need a breakthrough this month if a no-deal cliff edge is to be avoided on December 31 when the transition period on Britain's status expires. The passing of the June 30 deadline, without a transition extension application from London, confirmed that this eleventh-hour scramble for a minimal EU-UK post-Brexit deal is Ireland's only real hope of minimising carnage in 2021.
The negotiations continue and will resume again this week, with both sides conceding little progress is happening. The sticking points remain the same: guarantees from the UK in return for EU market access that they will not undercut their partners on taxation; workers' rights, the environment and state aid; the UK's total refusal to use the EU Court of Justice to resolve disputes; how to do post-Brexit police and security co-operation; and, inevitably, EU fishing rights in UK waters.
There is also the Irish Border. Yesterday, the UK's Brexit minister, Michael Gove, announced £705m (€787m) spending on customs installations at ports, mainly in the south-east of England. Gove said he would issue more detailed proposals on the Irish Border "later this month".
Speaking to presenter Andrew Marr on the BBC yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin conceded Ireland's frustration with the current slow pace of things. Mr Martin said more detail is needed on the Border in Ireland following Brexit.
"I think there has been some progress in terms of a paper that the UK government published but we do need more detail, we need more precision. I think we need an injection of momentum into the overall talks between the European Union and the United Kingdom in relation to Brexit," Mr Martin said.
He also warned that time was short to get a deal and have it ratified by EU member states and the European Parliament.
The other two issues are all about money and are hugely divisive. At the last EU leaders' summit in February, Ireland was among those rejecting the seven-year budget plan 2021-2027. Proposals meant Ireland paying more but getting less from traditional EU farm, regional and social funds. Some of the row is caused by the loss of €12bn each year from UK net contributions.
Last Friday, EU summit chairman Charles Michel tried to bridge the chasm between the "frugal north" who want to spend less and very cautiously, and the "Club Med south" who argue the need for more spending, especially in a post-coronavirus world.
Michel published a raft of new proposals which basically reduced the global amount in the seven-year budget to below €1.1tn, again raising fears about farm funding especially.
The summit chairman also retained the €750bn virus recovery plan which is backed by France and Germany. This provides for €500m in free grants, funded by the EU itself, breaking a long-time taboo and borrowing on world money markets. The rest would be low-interest loans.
The plan is vehemently opposed by the "frugals" of the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Denmark. They dislike the EU borrowing and "free money" being given to countries whose economies they believe were already in bad shape due to imprudent spending.
If compromise is to be found it will be about the terms and conditions under which any aid is given with supervision over spending. The potential big beneficiaries, Spain, Italy, and others, see supervision as "interference".
Mr Martin's real problem is "indicative amounts" already signalled by Brussels are not good news for Ireland. Former public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin said this country is in line for €3bn, with only about €1bn of this in grants - the rest in loans which cost more than the current money market rates.
Ireland and Belgium have strongly objected to the division ground rules which base too much on pre-Covid 19 economic conditions, when Ireland effectively had full employment. Now, Ireland has over 22pc unemployment.
Mr Michel has revised his proposals to allow 30pc of aid based on 2020 and 2021. But Mr Howlin has warned that this may not be enough to deliver much more cash.
Fine Gael MEP Máiréad McGuinness said a remedy could be found via a special €5bn Brexit fund which is part of the new plans published late on Friday and intended for countries most hit by the UK's departure.
Howlin argues that no country is more affected by Brexit than Ireland.
"This has to be the card to be played by the Taoiseach. He has to stress that Ireland is a very special case," he said.
Any way you look at things, it's a huge uphill battle for Martin's summit debut. But things may be even hotter.
The European Court of Justice will rule this Wednesday on an appeal by Ireland and tech giant Apple over a decision by the EU Commission in 2016 that the company owed over €13bn in back taxes.
Ireland's controversial tax regime, long looked askance at by EU kingpins France and Germany, will be back in the news.