Craic & Codology

The Wesht Wing

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Scene 1: A cemetery in Castlelyons, Co Cork. As the Taoiseach prepares to deliver the graveside oration at the State funeral of Thomas Kent, the VIP guests chat among themselves.

Gerry Adams (to the President): You know of course it should be you delivering the oration here, Michael D. Not this Mayo Blueshirt, using it as a party political broadcast.

Michael D Higgins: Yes, you’re probably right. Even aside from the political issue – entre nous – the occasion could benefit from my oratorical powers. God love him, but you wouldn’t ask Enda to make an inspirational speech to the Castlebar under-10 football team, never mind the nation.

Micheál Martin: Personally, I think that the job should have fallen to an – ahem – Cork person. Especially when we’re in the fortunate situation that the real – the original – republican party is led by a Corkman. I’m sure if Thomas Kent had been able to choose who gave the oration, it would have been me, as the direct inheritor of his tradition.

Joan Burton: Don’t flatter yourself, Meehawl. The poor man would be turning in his grave – if he wasn’t temporarily out of it – at the prospect. As for you, Grizzly, you’d be better off working out how to save the peace process from the activities of your cowboy pals. They haven’t gone away, you know.

Adams: Whatever little local difficulties I might be having, Joan, only proves that I’m the inheritor of the true republican tradition on this island. If this were 1915, I’d be delivering the oration: like Pearse did for O’Donovan Rossa.

Burton: Yeah, well, it’s not 1915. We have an independent, democratically elected Government in Dublin now. A government, by the way, that looks increasing likely to win a second term, thanks to the new boom we’re creating in the Republic. That’s your other problem.

Adams: But the fools, the fools! They have left us our Irish Water meters. And while Ireland holds these devices, Ireland unfree will never be at peace.

Higgins: Enough of the squabbling. This is itself proof of why I should be making the speech here. I alone soar above the petty difference of Irish politics.

Burton (patting him on the head): Soar away, Michael D – if only in the metaphorical sense. Anyway, we better shut up. Here’s Enda.

*************

Scene 2: Croke Park, Sunday evening. After watching Dublin regain the Sam Maguire, Leo Varadkar bumps into the Minister for Sport.

Paschal Donohoe: Ah the bould Leo. Good to see you here. I always thought you were more of a rugby man.

Varadakar: Gosh, no. Just because I went to King’s Hospital. But don’t believe what you hear. I’m a bogball – er, I mean Gaelic – man at heart.

Donohoe: It nearly was a bog out there today, right enough. Still, we got over the line in the end. It’s always a good day when ye beat Kerry.

Varadkar: Yeah. Go Dublin!

Donohoe (leaning in, sympathetically): “Up the Dubs” is better. “Go Dublin!” sounds like something you’d hear at a school hockey game. But, eh, speaking of games, I see Frances Fitz is making her pitch in the Sunday Indo today.

Varadkar (pretending indifference): Her pitch for what?

Donohoe: You know what. The leadership.

Varadkar: Oh, that old thing. Really – what did she say?

Donohoe: That she’s not ruling herself out. Which in political speak, as you know, means she’s gagging for it. And she’s clearly pitching herself as the compromise candidate between you and Simon.

Varadkar: Compromise candidate indeed. As if I couldn’t represent everyone in the party. Look at me: I’m the original man of the people.

Donohoe: Yeah. You know, today would be a good day to lay down a marker yourself. What with the Dubs taking one title from a bunch of culchies. (He winks) It could be a sign of things to come in Fine Gael. It’s just a pity you didn’t wear the jersey.

Varadkar (unzipping rain jacket): Actually, I did.

Donohoe: Good man. Go for it. Here’s some celebrating fans now. I’ll hold your coat.

Fan: Howaya Leo? Any chance of a selfie with the lads here?

Varadkar: Of course! (He poses, with the group, smiling, and making victory signs). Up the Dubs! (They take the picture).

Fan (shaking hands with him): Thanks Leo – fair play to you. I’ll be honest: I used to think you were a snobby fucker. But now I realise you’re one of our own.

*************

Scene 3: The bustling corridors of Government Buildings, Monday morning. The Government Press Officer and the Taoiseach walk and talk.

Feargal Purcell: So have you heard this stuff about David Cameron?

Enda Kenny: You mean the, eh, bizarre initiation ceremony in Oxford? Yes. I’ll never be able to look him straight in the face again.

Purcell: I can imagine that might be difficult. But, er (lowering voice), there’s nothing like that in your past, is there?

Kenny: Involving pigs? Dear God, no.

Purcell: Not just pigs, but – well – livestock generally. I mean, I’m only asking because, as Government Press Secretary, it’d be better if I found out about it now, rather than in the middle of an election campaign.

Kenny: No. Thankfully, I never went to Oxford. Although…

Purcell (worried): What?

Kenny (also worried, and lowering voice): Well, I did once win a catch-the-greasy-pig contest. It was at the Islandeady Sports Day – 1974, I think.

Purcell: Are there photographs?

Kenny: There might be.

Purcell (stroking his chin and thinking hard): But it would be obvious that this had happened at a traditional field day of the sort that were common in rural Ireland then?

Kenny: I suppose. Although, if there were close-ups, it might have looked a bit, er, romantic.

Purcell: Please tell me you’re joking.

Kenny: Well, I was struggling with the pig a long time. And when I finally caught him, we were both sweating heavily. And I had to hold on very tight.

Purcell: Ok, we need to put this out first, on our own terms, in case the opposition gets hold of it first and twists it to look bad.

Kenny: Will I make a statement at Leaders Questions?

Purcell: No. I’ll prime one of the tabloid hacks to ask you on a doorstep. Then you can make a joke of it. I’ll script the joke for you. But let me think about it first.