Deck the Dáil with howls of acrimony

Colm Keaveney: Now firmly in residence on the Fianna Fáil benches. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Colm Keaveney: Now firmly in residence on the Fianna Fáil benches. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 06:53

Christmas has crept up on Leinster House.

But it’s here now.

Trees are twinkling inside the building and the official tree-lighting ceremony outside on Leinster Lawn takes place later today.

The political parties’ parties have started too (although nobody wants to admit to having them because it might upset the populace and precipitate outraged calls to Joe Duffy).

Apart from the ever-present peril presented by the camera-phone, fresh danger awaits the political reveller this year. Getting snapped by some stranger’s Samsung while looking the worse for drink may be the least of a TD’s worries this Yuletide season.

Gazing upon Colm Keaveney yesterday afternoon, now firmly in residence on the Fianna Fáil benches, we realised it was time to issue a festive warning to members of all the other parties and the floating pool of Independents.

Be on your guard at all times. Remain vigilant. Do not stagger alone. There is strength in numbers. Beware of an approaching Billy Kelleher or Timmy Dooley.

Because the rumour sweeping Leinster House is that a Fianna Fáil press gang is in operation. We hear that Micheál Martin’s men (there’s hardly any women) are patrolling nightspots favoured by members of the Dáil and Seanad in search of a post-official knees-up libation. “It won’t be safe to fall asleep in Coppers anymore” a frightened Labour party official tells us. “We are urging our people not to accept, under any circumstance, a free drink from a member of Fianna Fáil. Because, one minute, you’ll be having a great time and the next, you’ll wake up in their party rooms with a thumping headache having signed up to the Soldiers of Destiny and a place on their election ticket.”

Apparently, they knocked out Peter Mathews with several pots of strong tea and now he’s committed to run for Europe with them. He has said nothing yet, but the speculation among terrified TDs is that the deputy for Dublin South has been captured.

Word is, Fianna Fáil isn’t choosy. They need bodies and don’t care where they get them. Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín had to go on the record yesterday to say he hasn’t been nobbled by Martin. Attempts were made, though.

It’s rough out there.

Speaking of warnings – a delegation from the Ukraine parliament arrived in the afternoon to observe proceedings in the chamber. The Ceann Comhairle’s attempt to welcome them was temporarily drowned out by Luke Ming Flanagan.

“Don’t join the EU! Don’t join the EU!” he shouted up at the bemused Ukrainians.

Ming was in feisty form, having just tangled, yet again, with the Minister for Justice during his question time.

Irish Times Politics