Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Keep your friends close. But make sure you have the means to destroy them’
“Once Chorles discovered how highly the porty rated in the opinion polls, he didn’t want to discuss issues in case it alienated the people who were already committed to vote for us. That’s not politics to me, Chris – it’s morkeshing.”
I give them to the old man. Oh, he’s stitched her up here – he’s stitched her up in a big time way.
It’s, like, ridiculous o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting in the green room in Newstalk, while Chris and Ivan question my wife about her decision to contest the general election as an independent candidate and my old man about where this leaves New Republic.
“What I am pleased about,” Sorcha goes, “is that Chorles and I have agreed to contest this election purely on the issues. We won’t be giving in to the urge to go negative.”
Kennet, the old man’s driver, is sitting opposite me. We both exchange a look that says, ‘Yeah, the girl is kidding herself.’
The old man goes, “Yes, I would like to reiterate what Sorcha has just said. As you mentioned, Ivan, we are in a rather unusual position in that we are not only erstwhile political colleagues and now rivals, but Sorcha is also my daughter-in-law and someone who happens to be very, very dear to me.”
Ivan goes, “So, Sorcha, you’re married to Charles’s son, em, Russ.”
Russ? For fock’s sake. I thought Ivan knew his rugby.
“That’s right,” Sorcha goes, not even bothering to correct him. “He’s sitting in the green room. He’s become my kind of unofficial driver for the campaign!”
The old man goes, “But of course he’s very close to his ‘old dad’ as he likes to call me and I think while he is obviously keen to support his wife at this difficult time, he remains at heart a supporter of New Republic!”
There’s laughter all round.
Chris weighs in then. He’s there, “Can we maybe talk about some of the issues behind your decision to resign from the party, Sorcha, right on the eve of the election? Why did you feel the need to leave New Republic?”
Sorcha’s like, “Well, I’m glad you asked me that question, Chris. I think what excited me most about the porty when Chorles first set it up was the promise that it was going to represent a new way of doing politics. But as time went on, I realised that New Republic was really about exploiting what Chorles saw as a gap in the political morket, brought about by voter disaffection with the mainstream porties. You can see the slogans on New Republic’s posters – ‘We’re not Fianna Fail!’ and ‘We’re not Fine Gael, ’ and ‘We’re not Labour! ’
“I just felt we should offer the electorate something more than that. I felt we needed to engage with people on the issues. But once Chorles discovered how highly the porty rated in the opinion polls, he didn’t want to discuss issues in case it alienated the people who were already committed to vote for us. That’s not politics to me, Chris – it’s morkeshing.”
Chris goes, “Charles, you wanted to come in on this.”
“Yes,” the old man goes. “I think it’s grossly unfair for the candidate to say that New Republic is a party with no policies. We have a very substantial policy document detailing our position on hundreds of issues, though it’s quite clear that she hasn’t read it. However, I suspect the real issue to which she is referring is the issue on which we clashed many, many times – and that’s water charges. Sorcha is of the opinion that the Irish people, already struggling under the burden placed upon them by a decade-and-a-half of economic mismanagement, should have to pay for the water that comes out of their taps.”
That’s true. She does.
Sorcha goes, “Chorles, that is a deliberate misrepresentation of my position. Yes, I believe that water is a precious natural resource. And, yes, I believe that we take it too much for granted. And, yes, I felt that, as New Republic’s spokesperson on the Environment, Community, Sustainability and Issues Surrounding Sustainability, it was within my remit to try to get that message across. But I was prevented from explaining to people the environmental benefits that will accrue from us – as a society – becoming more conscious of our water consumption. Can I quote you a statistic, Chris? Five thousand people die every day for the want of a resource that we take for – oh my God – granted.”
That’s when the old man drops the bomb on her.
“Can I ask you a question,” he goes. “If you are, indeed, in favour of water charges, then why have you not paid your own?”
Sorcha goes, “Excuse me?”
He’s like, “You haven’t paid your water charges, Sorcha.”
“That’s ridiculous. Of course I have.”
“I’m just going to read a letter that was sent from Irish Water to my daughter-in-law shortly before Christmas. Dear Customer, you recently received a bill from Irish Water for water services. Under the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013, you were liable for water charges. Payment was due within 14 days of the bill date and our records show that your account is now overdue.”
There’s, like, five or 10 seconds of silence in the studio, while Sorcha tries to come up with an explanation. The best she can do is, “Well, em, see, the thing is, er, my husband is in chorge of our household bills.”
That’s right. And how do I pay them? I give them to the old man. Oh, he’s stitched her up here – he’s stitched her up in a big time way. He must have been planning this for a while. Then I remember a phrase that him and Hennessy used to always use: “Keep your friends close. But make sure you have the means to destroy them should it prove necessary.”
“Your husband?” Ivan goes. “This is the famous Russ?”
I swear to God, I’m going to go in there and deck him in a minute.
The old man goes, “I think Sorcha’s message to the electorate on this issue – as with a great many others, no doubt – is do what I say and not what I do.”
Kennet looks at me as if to say, ‘She’s dead in the water.’
Thirty seconds later, Sorcha comes bursting out of the studio, madder than I’ve ever seen her, going, “If it’s a dirty fight he wants, then a dirty fight is what he’s going to get.”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE