Poor old Dicey Reilly, spinning his yarn to stroke politics experts
Róisín Shortall’s list, all done above board, fully transparent and in accordance with the programme for government.
When Dicey Reilly added to and tinkered with that list, but couldn’t adequately explain why, the junior minister resigned. “Stroke politics,” she declared.
But in Kildare Street, we detected a strange air of sympathy for the embattled Reilly.
Fine Gael’s deputy leader may not be the most popular person in his parliamentary party – no track record with Fine Gael, headhunted by Enda and made opposition health spokesman on his first day as a TD in 2007 – but if there was to be a villain in this piece, it wasn’t him.
It was Róisín.
We were struck by the underlying message that James Reilly was very unlucky to have ended up with Róisín Shortall as one of his junior ministers.
You see, politics is about the art of compromise – and Róisín can’t. And sure, what harm was Reilly doing only pulling a few strokes? This scandal was all that bloody woman’s fault.
Well, maybe not all her fault, because we mustn’t forget the media, trying to “drive a wedge” between Labour and Fine Gael. That’s what one Labour deputy said was the real reason for the furore.
“A man wouldn’t have resigned like that,” said another, in all seriousness. We forgot to mention Willie Penrose. But then, Willie resigned on a matter of principle.
Whereas Róisín . . . well, she’s difficult to work with, apparently.
One Minister privately expressed his disgust. He was apoplectic over the cheek of Fianna Fáil trying to give his party lectures on probity and good government.
As the week went by, Fine Gael and Labour sat shoulder to shoulder with Dicey Reilly and brazened things out. Who could point the finger anyway? Not when there were whispers that an aspiring Labour TD, who just missed out on a Dáil seat in the last election, had been gifted one of the primary care centre plums.
In a lucky twist for Calamity James, there was fleeting talk of possible corruption when it emerged that his friend and political associate owned one of the sites in Balbriggan. It was just coincidence, but it gave the Government the chance to fume about baseless allegations of corruption, while conveniently ignoring the fact that their man still couldn’t explain the rejigging of the list.
On Thursday the Tánaiste, out of the blue, came over all decisive. He summoned the head of the Department of Health, along with the head of the HSE, to his office. They assured Gilmore that Calamity James had nothing to do with choosing the sites.
But there was no mention of why certain locations were bumped up the list. And no documents.
You want to see some? Put in a Freedom of Information request, he told a gobsmacked Opposition.
But Eamon was satisfied. Because he has to be. For the sake of keeping the show on the road. Which is understandable.
Our Minister isn’t corrupt. He was only pulling a stroke.
Time to move on. Nothing more to see.
It’s only those disappointed and disillusioned eejits who thought this Government was supposed to be different, who won’t let go.
Now. Have a look at the lovely photograph of Enda Kenny looking chiselled and handsome on the cover of Time magazine.
What an honour. Aren’t we great, all the same?
Truly, it’s been an awful political week.