‘LOSER’ is one of the words that Taoiseach Enda Kenny pretends not to hear as he pads along the luxurious €265,000 velvet carpet on his way to the Dáil chamber. But a fancy Google app is not required to explain the meaning of the many other whisperings that are just as damning of his shambolic minority government. Words such as ‘lame duck,’ ‘also-ran,’ ‘dud,’ ‘washout’ and, ominously, ‘Dead Man Walking’!
So is he doomed as he starts out to govern with an ungovernable coalition? Perhaps, but here’s the interesting bit: his almost certain political demise may be self-induced. Some argue that he deliberately cobbled together a ramshackle coalition on the basis that he’ll resign (reputation intact) before its inevitable collapse.
In other words it’s a cunning piece of politicking that will allow Kenny depart the political scene on his own terms, graciously pass on the baton to his chosen successor and head for the hills where he’ll enjoy a juicy retirement, adulation from his Indo/Sindo pals, directorships to beat the band and, as Macbeth said, have the freedom to enjoy that which should accompany old age as honour, love, obedience and troops of friends. Ah yes, a charming scenario!
But what if things don’t go to plan and Kenny (sometimes described as the poor man’s Haughey) crashes ignominiously to earth, undone by one of those awful snags that impede his way: Irish Water, the housing crisis, Loony Toon independents, strikes, industrial unrest, health, abortion, crime and an incompetent Justice Minister?
And who’ll replace him when the chimes at midnight ring out? Will it be Leo Varadkar, that quintessentially Dublin ‘chance-your-arm’ politico? Nope, Inda has already cast him into humiliating obscurity from which it will be hard to return.
Coveney? Too tainted and too Cork.
Frances Fitzgerald? Impossible. As matters stand, she cuts a sad figure, erratically threshing about promising this and that while murderous gangsters run riot in the capital and peripatetic excursionists pillage isolated farms and terrify rural communities.
As for poor Paschal Donohoe, the Widow Twanky of Irish politics, like a rabbit he’s caught in the headlights of a Luas tram. Useless.
And forget about Noonan, Bruton and Flanagan: dinosaurs that belong to another age!
So who’ll step into Inda’s shoes? (At this point we’ll stick our neck out.) Why, none other than Regina Doherty, Government Chief Whip and Minister for State at the Department of the Taoiseach: the smartest broad (oops, lady) in town for expertly ascending the slippery pole.
Not very well known except to those in Kenny’s inner circle, she’s a TD for Meath East and Paddy Power has her at 20/1 to become the next Taoiseach – which are jolly good odds, considering she has Inda’s ear as Chief Whip and hatchet lady.
What’s more, he likes her ‘moderate’ views and the fact that she keeps her ambitions to herself. In other words, she’s an archetypal Fine Gaeler of the old stock.
Took no guff
For instance, as a Senator in 2013, she took no guff from David Norris and formally complained to the leader of the Seanad after Norris made a series of disgustingly sexist comments about her.
Nor had she any qualms as deputy director of Fine Gael’s Seanad abolition campaign when she got up the collective nostrils of the lads. She tabled over a dozen parliamentary questions in her zeal to gather information about the effectiveness of the Upper House because she wanted to see how effective the Seanad had been at amending government legislation. The furious comrades crudely told her to get lost and find the information herself!
And, although Ms Doherty is a star that’s discreetly rising within the Blueshirt ranks, she also knows what misfortune is. In another life, the company she ran – Enhanced Solutions Ltd – went belly-up in 2013, leaving debts of €280,000.
But, despite that regrettable occurrence, she never lost her quirky sense of humour –and a somewhat strange style of fun it is too.
In fact, she caused quite a stir on her Facebook page after posting details of a bizarre hobby that she practices when bored.
You see she likes to wrap up in a sleeping bag, lather butter all over herself and slide around the kitchen floor, pretending she is a slug.
The following day she posted the explanation that her comments were part of a campaign to focus attention on Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Kinda odd, like!
But it was a heated radio debate with Gerry Adams that marked her out as a feisty young thing.
While discussing the need to approach the legacy of the Six County war in a balanced manner, Adams revealed that two members of his family were killed (one by unionist paramilitaries and the other by the British Army), that his sister was six months pregnant when the Parachute Regiment killed her husband in Ballymurphy, that he had been shot as well as his brother, that his family home had been bombed, that his constituency office in West Belfast was bombed and that three people in his waiting room were killed.
Ms Doherty’s reaction was extraordinary: ‘All brought on by your own actions, Gerry,’ she retorted accusingly.
As an example of Fine Gael cynicism in its attitude to the Six Counties, her response was typically cruel, insensitive, one-sided, off-the-wall and callous. Nevertheless, it’s clear that her political virtues mark her out as a future Establishment leader and very much within the tradition of Blueshirt pugnacity. Oh yes, Regina’s the one to watch! And very carefully!
A bad joke
And now for a joke in bad taste! It goes like this: About a dozen hardy-buck bikers were riding their Harley Davidsons across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge when their attention was drawn to a group of gawkers staring at a pretty girl hanging from a railing and threatening to throw herself off. A policeman was trying to talk her down, but with no success.
The leader of the bikers had an idea. If he used some reverse psychology he might do better than the policeman. So he got off his bike, sauntered to the railing and said to the pretty girl: ‘Hey, honey-bunch, before you jump why don’t you give me your last kiss?’
With no hesitation at all, she leaned back over the railing and gave him a long, deep, lingering kiss, followed immediately by an even better one.
After they breathlessly finished, the onlookers, including the policeman, cheered, thinking the biker had solved the crisis.
‘Wow! That was the best kiss I have ever had,’ he said. That’s real talent you’re wasting there, Sugar Pants. Now tell me why are you committing suicide?’
‘My parents don’t like me dressing up like a girl.’
Nobody knows to this day whether she jumped or was pushed!