It’s another busy day in the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General. Making a round of the wards, hospital master Dr Varadkar is approached by an even-more-than-usually stressed head of the Accident and Emergency department, Dr Harris.
Harris (handing him a file of X-rays): I need you to have a look at these.
Varadkar (studying the X-rays with puzzled expression, then turning them upside down, and trying again): It’s a complete mess. What is it?
Harris: It’s our cervical cancer screening programme – that’s what.
Varadkar: Gosh. How did it end up looking like this?
Harris: Well, because we outsourced part if it to some place in Texas, among other reasons.
Varadkar: What are the CervicalCheck people saying?
Harris (handing him sheet of paper): Here’s the statement.
Varadkar (reading): “Processes… best practice… re-education… more processes…going forward”. Jesus – this is…
Varadkar: Exactly – that’s the perfect description.
Harris: No, I mean, Flannelly. The head of CervicalCheck. That’s her statement.
Varadkar (handing back file): She’ll have to go.
Harris: That’s what I thought too. I just wanted a second opinion.
The lecture theatre, later. As the hospital prepares for a dangerous operation to separate Siamese twins, known as Patient “Ireland” and Patient “Northern Ireland” respectively, the joint-head surgeon, Dr Barnier from Paris, outlines the risks involved.
Barnier (pointing at map): “Ere we see one of the areas most affected by the proposed surgery, including – ’ow you say in English – Dundal-k?
Simon Coveney: “Dundawk”, actually – the ‘l’ is silent.
Gerry Adams: So are a lot of the locals up there if you’re a stranger asking questions.
Barnier: Mais oui – I noticed that on my fact-finding mission to the area. Now, as you can see, there are many sensitive body parts ’ere, including Fork’ill and ’Ackballscross – ouch, that sounds like painful surgery. Which is why I suggest we avoid making any incisions ’ere at all, and instead concentrate on this area (he presses button on laptop, and another map – mostly blue – appears).
Coveney: Ah yes, the Irish Sea.
Barnier: Exactement! If there is to be any cutting at all, I intend to make it ’ere (he draws a line with his pointer between the Mull of Kintyre and Wexford). To borrow a term from my colleagues in the world of obstetrics, it will be a kind of Irish C-section.
Coveney: Very good! It’s an excellent plan, Dr Barnier, and of course you will have our full support. But as you know, the British half of the surgical team still has sharply contrasting ideas about this.
Barnier: Yes, I realise it. But don’t worry. (He presses button again and a picture of David Davis appears on screen). When I am finished (he mimes pulling a needle and thread), Monsieur Davis will be stitched up the middle too. And I promise that will be neither a seamless nor frictionless solution. (Laughter from audience, followed by standing ovation).
Later again, in a hospital interview room.
Varadkar: Okay, Mr Marshall. As you know, we’re interviewing for a vacancy in St Jude’s Ward for lost causes, or the Seanad Éireann department as it’s known in Irish. Not that we expect you to speak Irish, given your background, of course. In fact, basically, the job involves doing as little as possible except making me look good for having staff from minority backgrounds. So let’s just cut to the chase here and say: you’re hired.
Micheál Martin: Now wait just a minute, . I haven’t agreed yet – and you need a majority of the three-person interview board.
Mary Lou McDonald: Are you trying to be the bad cop here, Meehawl?
Martin: All cops used to be bad as far as your crowd was concerned. That was before your predecessor joined the hospital, instead of putting people in it.
McDonald: Always the bitter word, Meehawl. But I agree with Dr Varadakar. (She glances through the CV) Mr Marshall has all the qualities required here. So I vote we hire him too – that’s a 2-1 majority.
Martin (to Varadkar): You’re not seriously going to accept her support on this, are you?
Varadkar: Why not?
Martin: Because you’ve said repeatedly you wouldn’t share power with people like her.
Varadkar: Hey, we’re talking about a job in Seanad Éireann here – power has nothing to do with it. But besides, just because I may have said harsh things about Mary Lou in the past doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind. We’re all about second opinions in this profession, as you know.
Martin: Another U-turn – why am I surprised. No doubt Mary Lou will be on the board of management any day now.
McDonald: That’s the plan, all right. (To Marshall) Welcome to the infirmary, Ian. You’ll like it here. It’ll be just like home, eventually.