Miriam Lord: Time drags as Enda tries out a bit of woodwork

Word went around that the Taoiseach was going to unveil a ‘round table’

Micheál Martin: For the moment, he hasn’t really said what his party’s role might be in bringing about a new administration. Photograph: Alan Betson.

Micheál Martin: For the moment, he hasn’t really said what his party’s role might be in bringing about a new administration. Photograph: Alan Betson.

 

Time is beginning to drag in Leinster House.

The days are getting longer. Much longer. We will lose an hour this Sunday when the clocks go forward, but what does it matter?

The most exciting development this week is Enda’s new anorak: blue, lightweight, hint of padding.

We’re saying nothing.

In fairness to the acting Taoiseach, at least he’s trying to keep himself busy by taking up a hobby. Carpentry, apparently.

Word went around yesterday that he is going to unveil his handiwork in Government Buildings.

“He will be holding a round table in the morning,” announced Fine Gael sources.

Which is nice, but people have important questions which they would like to see answered.

How are things going in the struggle to put together a government? Grand coalition or minority administration? Could there be another general election? Is there a cabinet seat on offer for the Rural Rump?

But on the subject of government formation, there was just the one answer for everything yesterday.

“Enda is going to hold a round table.”

He even cancelled all his engagements last night so he could stay in to wash and iron a tablecloth.

New anorak aside, this table was a major talking point around the quiet corridors of Leinster House. Independent TDs were particularly interested in it.

“Enda Kenny is holding a round table with us tomorrow,” revealed Finian McGrath, who has been walking with a spring in his step since he narrowly squeaked through to take a seat in Dublin Bay North.

Holding a seance

So that means a lot of politicians will be holding that table today. It must be some lump of wood.

If somebody dims the lights they could hold a seance, along with the table.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin reportedly held one the previous night in the darkened vaults of the Merrion Hotel’s Cellar Bar, where he reportedly “made contact” with Labour leader Joan Burton.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael strategists were delighted with the optics of Enda’s political furniture, going forward. They spent much of yesterday varnishing it, so it might look its best for the media and appear shiny enough to take the eye out of Fianna Fáil.

The other main contender for government is playing a much quieter role. For the moment, Micheál hasn’t really said what his party’s role might be in bringing about a new administration.

Pull up a stool

That’s not to say that Micheál hasn’t been putting himself about. He was over like a shot to meet secondary school students from Cork when they arrived in the Dáil canteen yesterday. This politically aware group from Cork County Comhairle na nÓg took the opportunity to bring up the cost of transport for rural-based young people, who, unlike their urban counterparts, do not benefit from the discounts offered by the Leap card scheme.

Micheál talked very earnestly to them about the need to have a minister for rural affairs, among other things. Enda is very taken by that necessity too. He probably mentioned it when he had a meeting yesterday morning (square table) with five members of the Rural Alliance – or the RA – to discuss issues of mutual interest around government formation.

After their meeting, the acting Taoiseach tipped down the long corridor in Government Buildings to the Italian Room, where he launched the 2016 census, which will be taken on April 24th, 100 years on to the day from the Easter Rising.

So it is very significant, in more ways than one, said Enda. April 24th is also his birthday.

Gurgling

He happily posed for pictures with the two women, along with a gurgling assortment of winsome great-grandchildren.

Noting the slogan for the drive to get everyone to complete their census form, he observed: “ ‘Make Your Mark’ is a very good motto – I’m trying to struggle with people having made their mark in the last few weeks, today.”

There then followed an incident of White House proportions when various props were introduced for the photo opportunity, ending with a large cardboard cut-out of a bus. This was placed in front of the lovely Theresa and Dorothea and Enda. They waved out the windows.

An adorable baby was plonked on Enda’s lap. He waved the tot’s arm up and down until the little mite started to bawl, whereupon a different babba was produced for Enda to frighten.

Now, depending on where you were standing, it looked like the acting Taoiseach was either sitting in the middle of the bus or nearer the back of it.

Cup of tea

By the time Enda arrived in the Italian Room he didn’t even have time for a cup of tea.

Then he had to leave early.

It was an outrage. Do they not know who he is?

Gerry Adams (or Rossa O’Pairceanna as he is known in American civil rights circles) wouldn’t stand for that sort of disrespect. What would he do?

Enda looks set to follow precedents in the face of yesterday’s bus abomination. After meeting the Independent deputies, he is likely to issue a statement abhorring his treatment and then send a stern letter to the relevant authorities requesting an immediate normalisation of relations between Fine Gael and the CSO.

Followed by round-table discussions.