Scene 1: A room in Leinster House. Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil resume.
Enda Kenny (entering, out of breath): Sorry I’m late, gentlemen. An acting Taoiseach’s work is never done.
Micheál Martin: Where was it you were, again?
Kenny: National Concert Hall. Official reopening of the Kevin Barry Rooms. Very historic venue – hosted the Treaty Debates, don’t you know?
Martin: Ah, yes. Where Collins and Griffith sold out the Republic?
Kenny: More like where Dev stabbed his country in the back.
Leo Varadkar: Alright chaps, let’s not fight the civil war again. (He hands Kenny a sheet of paper) In your absence, Taoiseach, we’ve nailed down a few more details. But Meehole – sorry, Meehawl – has a new list of demands.
Martin: They’re not demands – they’re principles. I call it Document No 2.
Kenny: Document No 2, eh? I seem to recall De Valera produced one of those as well in 1921. It had to be discussed in secret session.
Varadkar: Don’t worry, Taoiseach – this one’s mostly about jobs for the boys and free parking spaces. There’s nothing in it we can’t live with.
Kenny (looking Martin in the eye): And if we say yes to this, you’ll take the, er, oath of allegiance?
Martin: We’re not going to kiss your ring, Enda – if that’s what you think. But we’ll abstain on the vote for Taoiseach and on certain agreed issues thereafter.
Kenny: Okay. Leave this with me. We may have a few new demands of our own before we shake hands on anything.
Scene 2: The bustling corridors of Government Buildings. En route to a Cabinet meeting, Varadkar and Simon Coveney walk and talk.
Coveney: So we need 58 votes to get the lame duck reelected?
Varadkar: Yes, and we already have Katherine Zappone, plus the disgraced former minister from Tipperary whose name we don’t mention.
Coveney: I’m also hearing rumours that Labour are wrestling with their consciences about a possible return to government. They usually win.
Varadkar: Yeah, but do we want them? I mean, we’ll have enough of a legitimacy issue as it is.
Coveney: Well there’s also the Greens. They’re gagging for it. Plus Denis Naughten, and Maureen O’Sullivan, although they’ll both want something ministerial. We’ve asked Shane Ross’s gang for a costed shopping list too, but they still haven’t reached check-out.
Varadkar: Ten billion and counting, I hear.
Coveney: Plus two seats at Cabinet, probably. At this rate, we’ll have a lot of disappointed Blusehirts.
Varadkar: Lesser of two evils. I mean: imagine if we had to fill all 15 ministries and another 15 juniors out of our 50 TDs. You’ve heard some of those people speak at the PP meetings, for God’s sake.
Coveney (Thinking about it): The horror!
Varadkar: No harm invigorating the Cabinet with new blood.
Coveney: Especially because they’ll get most of the blame for everything.
Varadkar: Ha, ha, yes – just like poor old Labour. (They pause outside the door of the Cabinet room and he lowers his voice). Anyway, it’ll just be a temporary little arrangement. We only need to get Enda back in long enough for him to go with dignity.
Coveney: Indeed. Two years would do us. One year to phase out Enda, and another for the, ahem, new leader – whoever that is – to win the party an overall majority.
Varadkar (entering room): Well I can’t guarantee a majority, Simon. But I’ll do my best.
Scene 3: The Taoiseach’s Office. Enda Kenny studies files as the portrait of Michael Collins looks on.
Collins: So I hear the Soldiers of Destiny are supporting you for Taoiseach?
Kenny: Well, they’re constructively abstaining, anyway. But yes, it seems to be a done deal. We’re just dotting ‘i’s and crossing ’t’s now.
Collins: Whatever you do, never trust the bastards.
Kenny: Don’t worry, I won’t. (The door opens and a personal assistant enters with an envelope).
PA: This was just delivered by courier, Taoiseach. It’s marked “extremely urgent”.
Kenny (opening it and reading aloud): “Document No 3…”
Collins: What does it say?
Kenny: It’s a quasi-legal contract, drawn up by Fianna Fáil. I think it means that their offer of support for the Government will cease forthwith upon any change of Fine Gael leader, in which event they will feel obliged to refer back to the electorate.
Collins: In other words, they want to keep you as Taoiseach until the next election, whenever it happens?
Kenny: That seems to be it, yes.
Collins: The cunning bastards!
Scene 4: Arbour Hill. At Fianna Fáil’s annual commemoration for the men of 1916, Eamon Ó Cuív reads the proclamation, while Micheál Martin and Bertie Ahern look on.
Ó Cuív: “…In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good…”
Ahern (to Martin): Speakin’ of which, eh, I hear youse are sacrificin’ yourselves for de common good?
Martin: Well, we’re facilitating the reelection of the current Taoiseach, if that’s what you mean.
Ahern: How long do ye tink dat’ll last?
Martin: I don’t know. But sure we’ll take it one vote at a time.
Bertie (to Ó Cuív, as he returns from podium): Well done, Eamon. Good speech – aldough I tink I heard it before somewhere.
Ó Cuív: Very drole, Bertie. Nice to see you again.
Bertie: So is dis de end of civil war politics, lads?
Ó Cuív: Well, let’s see, shall we? They don’t trust us as far as they’d throw us. And we have an even lower opinion of them. Bertie: I’ll give it six months so. I just hope tings doesn’t get too bitter and, ye know, turn brudder against brudder.
Martin: No danger of that. Neither of the Healy Raes would vote for a Blueshirt Taoiseach, unless maybe he promised an extension of the Luas to Killorglin, or something.
Ó Cuív: Ha, ha. I hear that was just one of their demands. They wanted an airport as well.