Craic & Codology

The Wesht Wing

Scene 1: The Alexandra Hotel, Dublin. After a faltering first press conference of the election campaign by Enda Kenny, faceless party strategists call an emergency meeting.
Faceless strategist 1: That wasn’t very good, Taoiseach.
Kenny: Well, they asked me a question about figures and stuff, which as you know is not my strength. So I tried to bat it away.
Faceless strategist 2: And that line about “most people don’t understand economic jargon” was the best you could think of? Jesus – the hacks were laughing at you. It was so obvious you didn’t understand it either.
FC1 (to Michael Noonan): But you should have intervened at that point to take the question for him, Mick.
Noonan: I didn’t realise he was stuck until he started speaking. I mean, I could see he had a blank look on his face. But in fairness, he has that all the time.
FC2: We need to protect the Taoiseach better during the campaign. Otherwise our high-risk strategy of letting him out in public occasionally is going to backfire.
FC1: It’s a bit like Jonny Sexton in the rugby. We have to avoid situations where Enda’s brain is exposed to violent impacts.
FC2: Even if he doesn’t have the excuse of accumulated concussions.
FC1: So, any time we see a big hit coming his direction, just like in the rugby, we need the fat guys to get in the way and take the heat for him.
Noonan: Gee, thanks lads. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m on a diet.
FC1: Sorry, Mick – I wasn’t referring to your physique. I mean that you’re an intellectual heavyweight.
Kenny (offended): And I’m just a pretty face, I suppose?
FC2: You do have a great a smile, Taoiseach. Where possible, you should use that instead of speaking.

Scene 2: The Fiscal Space Centre (aka Fine Gael election HQ). Worried analysts pore over the party’s draft economic manifesto.

Analyst 1: Houston, we have a problem.
Analyst 2: What is it?
Analyst 1: It appears to be a black hole of some kind.
Analyst 2: In the universe?
Analyst 1: In the fiscal space, actually. You know how Baldy has been saying we have €12 billion to spend between 2017 and 2021?
Analyst 2: Yeah?
Analyst 1: It appears to be only €10.1 billion.
Analyst 2: Oh well. What’s a couple of billion here or there?
Analyst 1: Yeah, you’re right. But we better put the lower figure in the manifesto.
Analyst 2: Agreed. The political hacks won’t even notice the difference, anyway. You know what they’re like: they can’t count higher than their expense claims, most of them.
Analyst 1 (changing figure): There. If any fiscal space experts do spot it, we’ll get Enda to blame it on the effects of dark matter.
Analyst 2: That might work. It’s all dark matter to him, anyway.

Scene 3: A street in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Alan Kelly bumps into Michael Lowry on the canvass.

Lowry: The hard man. (They shake hands.) I probably shouldn’t be touching you, though – I hear you’re toxic.

Kelly: Ha ha. If I’m toxic, you must be radioactive. But who’s complaining about me now?
Lowry: “Senior party sources”, according to the papers. They say your naked ambition and disloyalty to the leadership is derailing their campaign.
Kelly: Me – ambitious and disloyal? That’s hilarious. Sure I care about nothing except what’s best for Labour.
Lowry: In other words, you replacing Joan as leader as soon as possible?
Kelly: Exactly. But enough about me – if that’s possible. I see Enda’s ruled out doing any deal with you after the election.
Lowry: Not really.
Kelly: How so? He said there’d be no pact with you or any Independents. That’s fairly clear, by his standards.
Lowry: Yes, but you notice how he lumped me in with all the others?
Kelly: You mean he wasn’t taking a moral stand on you in particular? Ok, but he still said he won’t do a deal with Independents.
Lowry: No, but he might do a deal with the newly-formed NTP.
Kelly: Let me guess – the North Tipperary Party?
Lowry: Feel free to join us if your post-election heave doesn’t work.
Kelly: Ha ha. It’ll work alright. But good luck with the party. I just hope you win one of the two remaining seats after I top the poll.
Lowry: Dream on, young fella. I’m still the man here. You’ll be doing well to finish second.

Scene 4: Sinn Féin HQ. After receiving a coded telephone warning about the presence of a suspected typo in one of Mary Lou McDonald’s campaign leaflets, the party’s electoral bomb disposal unit considers the situation.

Gerry Adams: Do we know the exact nature of the, er, suspect device?
McDonald (blushing from shame): Apparently we printed two ‘o’s instead of two ‘b’s in the “Bobby” of “Bobby Sands”.
Pearse Doherty: Us walking into a booby trap. Who’d have thought?
Adams (stroking beard): OK – keep monitoring social media while I think about how we can defuse this.
Doherty: What about a controlled explosion?
Adams: You mean we admit it ourselves before anyone else notices, and then make a joke out of it? No, our critics would still have a field day. How many of the leaflets have we printed, Mary Lou?
McDonald: A couple of thousand. But most of them are still here. We only distributed a few boxes when I was out canvassing in Cabra earlier.
Adams: Right. We’ll destroy the ones here before we do anything else. Then we’ll retrace your steps in Cabra and see if we can get back the ones you gave out.
Doherty: We can say it’s a new recycling policy. Or an anti-littering initiative.
Adams: Good thinking, Pearse. If we approach this operation delicately enough…
McDonald (looking at iPhone): Feck. Too late.
Adams: What?
McDonald: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. It’s blown up.