Scene 1: The Taoiseach’s Office. Enda Kenny reads the newspapers while the portrait of Michael Collins looks on.
Collins: Well, have you had your picture painted yet?
Kenny: What picture?
Collins: The one for the gallery of ex-Taoisigh.
Kenny (hufflly): I’m not gone yet. Even if I don’t win the vote on Thursday, I’ll still be acting Taoiseach for the foreseeable future.
Collins: No change there, so. I always thought you were acting, although you were nearly convincing sometimes.
Kenny: Gee, thanks.
Collins: Ah, I’m only pulling your chain, Enda. (Gesturing to newspapers) Who’s yer man that’s all over the front pages?
Kenny: Conor McGregor. Mixed martial arts fighter. Thought he was invincible, until he experienced a bad choke.
Collins: Jayzus – sounds very like the Fine Gael election campaign.
Kenny: He went up in weight, of course, which didn’t help. In fact he’s still champion in the featherweight division. But he couldn’t deal with the extra pounds, obviously.
Collins: There’s a moral there. When lightweights try to mix it with the bigger lads, it never ends well.
Kenny: Feck off, Mick.
Scene 2: The bustling corridors of Leinster House. After clearing out his office, Alan Shatter bumps into Leo Varadkar.
Shatter (bitterly): There he is. The genius in charge of Fine Gael’s communications strategy. No wonder the electorate hated us.
Varadkar: Ah Leo, is it your last day? If you’d told us, we’d have put up bunting.
Shatter: The only thing you could be relied on to put up, Leo, is the number of patients on hospital trollies.
Varadkar: Ooh, very cutting! Mind you, I did also put up enough votes to retain my Dáil seat, unlike some people.
Shatter: Yes, well, voters do tend to favour sitting ministers – even incompetent ones. It’s just public profile. They see you opening things all the time, if only your mouth.
Varadkar: Gosh, Alan. We’ll miss your famous warmth and charm around here. I’d wipe a tear away if I could find one.
Shatter: Don’t worry. There’ll be another election soon. I’ll be back then, when we may be travelling in opposite directions.
Varadkar: Well, in the meantime, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. It’s liable to swing behind you – unlike the electorate.
Scene 3: A small room somewhere. The surviving Labour party TDs gather to review their position.
Brendan Howlin: Well, this is cosy.
Alan Kelly: Yes, fair play to you for filling the venue to capacity, Joan. What is this – a broom closet?
Joan Burton: Sorry if it isn’t big enough for your ego, Alan. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford Croke Park. Anyway, here we all are.
Howlin (gloomily): “All” seems like an overstatement.
Willie Penrose: Look on the bright side. At least we still we have Dáil speaking rights, thanks to me.
Burton: Yes, Willie – we’re suitably grateful.
Sean Sherlock: But what do we do now?
Joan Burton: Well, the first thing is we have to vote for Enda as Taoiseach.
Howlin: Even though the electorate rejected him.
Joan Burton: It doesn’t matter. It’s what we said we’d do, so we have to follow through.
Howlin: And what then?
Burton: Then he’ll become the caretaker Taoiseach, while we withdraw to the opposition benches and regroup.
Kelly (sarcastically): As the magnificent seven.
Penrose: I prefer the seven samurai.
Kelly: If we were samurai, a certain person here would have already committed hari-kiri.
Burton: If anyone’s getting ritually disembowelled here, Kelly, it’ll be you.
Howlin: Alright – that’s enough from both of you. This bitter rivalry didn’t help us during the election campaign. It’s not going to help now. Especially with so few of us left, we need to work together. If we do, I’m sure we’ll rebound again, as we’ve always done.
Penrose: Well spoken, Brendan.
Jan O’Sullivan: Yes, it sounded almost like a leadership speech.
Howlin: Well, of course, I have no personal ambitions in that direction…
Kelly: You did the two times you ran before.
Howlin (ignoring him): …But if our tragically divided party could benefit from a compromise candidate….
Burton: Thanks, shortarse. If we need a two-time loser, we’ll call you.
Howlin: I may have lost twice before, Joan. And I may be of diminutive stature. But thanks to the dramatic shrinkage of TDs that has occurred under you leadership, I think the party and I are finally a perfect fit.
Kelly: Ouch! (To Burton) He got you there.
Scene 4: As negotiations on the post-election stalemate continue, Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin have a breakthrough on Dáil reform.
Kenny: So explain to me again this concept about you being both in and out of Government at the same time?
Martin: Well, not exactly the same time. Basically, I got the idea from years of watching Bertie. Whenever it suited him, he used to talk as if he had no real power to change things.
Kenny: Yeah, I remember. And he got away with it, somehow.
Martin: Yes. Well, this would just formalise that arrangement. At certain times, Fianna Fáil would be in government. But at other times – on days when there were no big votes, for example – I’d cross the chamber and be leader of the opposition.
Kenny: Thereby preventing Gerry Adams from filling the role?
Kenny: Well, it seems a bit irregular. But so long as we could do something similar, I’d be broadly in favour.
Martin: No problem there, Enda. I’m happy for us to rotate the role of leader of the opposition, as well as Taoiseach.
Kenny: Right. I think we have the basis of a deal. so.
Martin: Although of course we won’t let on for another few weeks.
Kenny: No. We’ll have all the 1916 stuff first. Then, after pretending to wrestle with our consciences, we’ll do the right thing in the national interest.
Martin: Ha, ha. Put it there, pal. (They shake hands).