Gilmore has no regrets as Quinn gives lesson in leaving

Pleas about ‘Garret’ resound as Cabinet meeting gets emotional

Ruairí Quinn: following Leaders’ Questions, he was seen in the chamber receiving hugs and kisses from his Labour colleagues. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ruairí Quinn: following Leaders’ Questions, he was seen in the chamber receiving hugs and kisses from his Labour colleagues. Photograph: Frank Miller

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 01:00

It was an emotional Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

Very fraught.

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton were sick of the sight of each other, having spent six hours together on Monday arguing over ways to revamp the programme for government.

By the afternoon, word emerged from Merrion Street that they had yet to get around to the topic which has paralysed Leinster House for the past month.

Meanwhile, in other news, the nation was having a nervous breakdown. Some chap called “Garret” had flounced off in a huff.

Not unlike Ruairí Quinn, although his flounce was far more understandable and stylish.

He will not be involved in the reshuffle.

“I feel unwelcome here now,” said Ruairí to his erstwhile Cabinet colleagues, with a heavy heart. “Yis can do what yis like. I’m off.”

He seemed happy with his decision.

Later on, following Leaders’ Questions, he was seen in the chamber receiving hugs and kisses from his Labour colleagues on this, his final day as a Minister.

The horse-trading continued back in Government Buildings.

“It’s five or nothing, Enda,” insisted Joan. “Five or nothing.”

The Taoiseach, sobbing openly, shouted: “How many times do I have to tell you? Labour already has five seats in Cabinet. High five, Joan, high five. That’s not going to change.”

In reality, none of the Ministers could concentrate properly on the reshuffle.

Not when Ireland’s reputation had just been tarnished in the eyes of the whole wide world.

Eamon Gilmore, departing Minister for Foreign Affairs, addressed his colleagues for the last time.

“I have no regrets,” he reportedly told them. “But you have a job of work to do now to restore the nation’s battered image. We must be able to hold our heads up internationally again.”

Pall of gloom

A pall of gloom hung over Government Buildings as Joan and Enda and their Ministers tried to get to grips with Ireland’s global shame.

Then the door to the Sycamore Room was flung open to reveal a grey-haired man in a dark suit, wearing a large gold chain of office.

“Will nobody think of the chilturdin?” he wailed.

For it was the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, and him making a late intervention in the race for a Cabinet place.

Christy faced the Government and, with the words he would use later in an impassioned performance on the six o’clock news, he forced his way into the reckoning for a place in Government.

Enda, if he is to turn his administration around, has to think outside the box. And the Lord Mayor was doing exactly the same.

“This to me is like a funurdel without a corpse. Dere’s a sadness throughout the nation.”

Pat Rabbitte took umbrage. “I beg you pardon, Christy Burke, but I am not politically dead yet. Although I appreciate what you are saying about a great sadness sweeping through the nation and the Labour Party at the prospect of me losing my portfolio.”

Joan laughed. She loves a bit of gallows humour.

Christy addressed the Taoiseach directly. “I am asking you to plead with Garret,” cried the Lord Mayor. “We need Garret to come back to us.”

Enda slowly shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Christy,” he said softly. “But Dr FitzGerald left us in 2011. He isn’t coming back, although I could do with someone of his brilliance when I look at some of the galoots I have to work with in here.”

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney blushed but said nothing. Why would they, when everyone says they’re going to retain ministries in the new Endoan Era?

Although it was all speculation. And as the day wore on, people were getting sick and tired of trying to predict who will stay and who will go and who will get the call to higher things.

Cull

Yesterday was particularly difficult for the Ministers of State who may be in the firing line when Enda and Joan begin their cull. But one of them, Paschal Donohoe, has been tipped for promotion. He was like a hen on a hot griddle yesterday, what with the Garret debacle unfolding in his Dublin Central constituency at the same time as his future was being considered by his superiors.

Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty arrived in wearing a beautiful blue dress, leading some to wonder if she had been hoping to appear in some good news photographs later in the day. As it turned out, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste decided to hold off announcing the new jobs for another day.

The two of them had to adjourn their deliberations for the afternoon so Enda could take Leaders’ Questions. Then he took the order of business, at which yet more pleas were made for the return of Garret to these shores.

But first the Taoiseach formally announced Joan Burton’s appointment as Tánaiste. Almost all of Labour’s TDs (and a smattering of Senators) turned up for the occasion. We didn’t recognise half of them.

There was applause for the new Labour leader from all sides. Enda shook hands with his Tánaiste and Ruairí Quinn, sitting to her left, did likewise.

Behind them, looking fit to burst with pride, sat Joan’s freshly elected second-in- command, Alan Kelly. “Minister Kelly has already announced he’s going into Cabinet,” laughed the Fianna Fáil leader, as Kelly’s face turned as red as his party leader’s dress.

“Would you ever take the other Ministers out of their prolonged misery?” said Micheál Martin to the Taoiseach, as the longest reshuffle in history rolled on.

“They’re living in a kind of limboland.”

But not for much longer. Today’s the day.

Bring Christy Burke into the Cabinet. And give Garret a call too.

Never mind the reshuffle.

Ireland needs to be rehabilitated.

First off, we should set up a sworn investigation into the Garth Brooks concert debacle. It could be called the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters.

If that hasn’t been taken already.

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