WHAT a wondrous sight it was to have Mickey Martin, current Fianna Fáil leader and successor to the mythical Éamon de Valera, encouraging the troops to support Fine Gael, which, as everyone knows, used to be the party’s traditional adversary!
In a recent speech, Martin advocated supporting Fine Gael through another Budget and, after that, straight to the polls for a general election. In the eyes of some people, his underpinning of the Blueshirts sounded unconvincing. Others saw his proposal as nothing more than a jolly ecumenical gesture designed to promote a spirit of co-operation between Fine Gael and the pro-Fianna Fáil family of associates.
But, one way or another, at the heart of the Martin plan was a political rapprochement between his lot and the Blueshirts. Needless to say, although well intentioned, it made supporters of both parties apprehensive of the future.
And yet, Varadkar and Fine Gael, are doing nothing more than expressing an evangelical approach towards Fianna Fáil in the hope that both parties together would swagger down the corridors of power, arm-in-arm, united in a common cause.
Certainly the political climate is changing. Gone is the fanatical scourging that Fine Gael used inflict on Fianna Fáil for its many sins and, in the ascendant, is a charming Blueshirt attitude of forgiveness, goodness and light.
And there’s another reason that might explain the change of heart: Vlad recently admitted, mirabile dictu, that Fine Gael would be willing to back a Fianna Fáil-led government after the next general election!
The comment was made at an autumn Blueshirt ‘think-in’ (we’re not codding: a ‘Blueshirt think-in’ that supported the F&Fers! Something for Ripley’s ‘Believe it or Not’?) and although later reported extensively, it didn’t get the close political analysis that it deserved.
Nonetheless, the announcement about Fine Gael supporting a FF-led government sent shockwaves through FG ranks; some of the rank and file choked on their porridge. ‘What in the name of Jaaa-us is Varadkar up to now?’ they squawked.
Inevitably some of his ardent admirers spent the day excusing the Caudillo’s comment as an early-morning aberration. But, in fact, it wasn’t a chromosomal disorder, perceptible only before noon, and Vlad hadn’t lost his marbles. He was deadly serious.
Emphasising his determination to stay on as Taoiseach and promising that Fine Gael would be the biggest party in the land when it won the next election (which has been pencilled in for May 2020), Vlad made clear that a deal with Martin and his Soldiers of Destiny might well be on the cards.
A grand coalition?
Announcing that, should Mickey’s party win more seats than Fine Gael, a ‘grand-coalition’ would be a possible outcome for the two Establishment parties (Varadkar, however, personally wasn’t too keen on being part of a minority government).
And certainly he would not entertain a situation whereby FG was the largest party in the Dáil and then ‘somehow have to facilitate the second and fourth and fifth party in forming a government.’
Interestingly, although everybody is in a soothsaying mode, busily predicting an Ireland ruled by a FF-FG consortium, Mickey Martin is more practical-minded. He informed the meeja that he had ‘a sense that the people wanted a change in government’ and that he had come to such a conclusion after Fianna Fáil’s insect-like antennae detected minute changes in the political environment. It was a calm and measured response!
For the record, Mickey’s observations had a ghostly similarity with De Valera’s ability to know what the Irish people wanted. Faced with a difficult political decision, the Long Fellow did nothing more than look into his heart’ and, bingo, the answer was there.
All of which raised these questions: is a coalition of Fine Gael and the Soldiers of Destiny a possibility? Has the penny finally dropped for Vlad and Mickey that there was no ideological reason why the two parties shouldn’t coalesce after the next election?
Out of the question, however, was a government that had mosquito parties in it such as the Greens or Labour; and as for any power sharing with Sinn Féin, well, such a thought was vomit-inducing!
Indeed, Mickey and Vlad might be on a winner. Nothing substantial separates their parties and, importantly, the refinement and good manners with which they now treat each other are an acknowledgement of their close, almost identical, political similarity.
Important too is that there hasn’t been a cross word between them during the life of the current government. And best of all: inter-party relations are conducted with affable reasonableness.
Indeed, with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil confident of possessing a sort of God-given entitlement to rule, we could be facing a situation whereby the two outfits will be in charge for decades to come, either as a coalition or as Fine Gael ruling the roost one year and Fianna Fáil the next. A pleasant aspiration or a nightmare?
And now for something different: Mickey’s obsession with euphemisms! First a definition. A euphemism is an inoffensive word or phrase that is substituted for one considered inappropriate when discussing topics such as sex, death, excreta and politics.
For example: sleeping with (shagging), departed this life (croaked), bowel movement (a crap). You get the idea.
So, we rather enjoyed Mickey’s recent use of euphemistic language as he tried to take a slice off the government for using the Public Services Card as an identity card. ‘It was “not on” that the government would tell porkies,’ he indignantly cried.
A ‘porky’ is taken to mean an intentional untruth; a lie. It’s a silly word, so why didn’t he use ‘lie,’ which has its origins in the 10th century and is perfect for expressing moral reprobation? Recently, he said the Government was ‘hiding the truth’ and ‘failing to tell the truth’ when the appropriate word to use was ‘lying’.
Which raises this question: instead of plain English, why do politicos choose nonsense-words and phrases such as ‘terminological inexactitude,’ ‘whoppers,’ ‘tall tales,’ ‘figments of the imagination’?
Is Mickey too well-mannered and refined to use an earthy expression? And why soften the unpleasant but relevant impact of the word ‘lie’ by means of an unintelligible Americanism?
Cogging at exams
The sad tale of the 71 students caught cogging in the Leaving Cert and refused their results has been forgotten. No one cared. Which reminded us of the exasperated parent who asked his son why he did so badly in his Maths exam
‘Absence,’ the son replied.
‘You were absent on the day of the exam?’ the father exclaimed.
‘No, but the guy who sits next to me was!’