Miriam Lord: Enda lends an ear as hats fly into the ring

As politicians eye the top jobs, this new politics starts to seem very familiar

‘The Taoiseach and Micheál Martin were both busy yesterday boiling kettles and cutting sandwiches and preparing to meet Independent TDs.’

‘The Taoiseach and Micheál Martin were both busy yesterday boiling kettles and cutting sandwiches and preparing to meet Independent TDs.’

 

There was dangerously crowded airspace around Leinster House yesterday.

Even the seagulls were afraid to approach for fear of all the flying hats.

Gerry Adams took to the plinth just after midday, very pleased with himself and the singular honour that had been bestowed upon him.

“I’m very happy that Sinn Féin have chosen to nominate me as taoiseach when the Dáil resumes on Thursday.”

There’s a surprise. You could have knocked us down with a feather, if the hats hadn’t done it first.

Sinn Féin may have ruled itself out of going into government, but that’s no reason for not joining in the fun.

And with the 1916 centenary commemoration on the horizon, why shouldn’t the party mark such an auspicious date with a significant development in its own history – a Sinn Féin nomination for taoiseach in the chamber of Dáil Éireann?

No-go areas

Then everyone ducked as Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin’s cap flew into the mix as well.

This is the era of new politics. Tomorrow, a ceann comhairle for the 32nd Dáil will be chosen by secret ballot, and a politician from any party or none can go forward and contest the position, unencumbered by past restraints of voting along party lines.

Adams is fully behind the concept, hence his party’s nomination of their veteran TD, Ó Caoláin, for the job.

The party leader has written to Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin seeking their support for him, something that would never have happened under the old dispensation.

So, having objectively considered the situation, and in the spirit of the new approach, Sinn Féin looked at what is on offer.

“It’s a matter of putting the person we think is best able to do the job,” explained Gerry.

Caoimhghín came top of their list due to his many years of experience in the Dáil and his record of working well with deputies from all parties.

Right enough, he fits the bill.

“It isn’t just because he’s a member of Sinn Féin, but because we believe he’s the best person for the job.”

Meanwhile, away from the plinth, the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, were busy boiling kettles and cutting sandwiches into little triangles and preparing to meet Independent TDs in their respective parlours.

In orbit

The three Social Democrats had a long chat with Enda, whose hat has been in orbit since the election results were announced.

They discussed Dáil reform, which is dear to everyone’s heart.

He also took tea with sundry Independents before spending most of the afternoon meeting the Independent Alliance.

Reports afterwards indicated it was all very workmanlike and amicable, and nobody mentioned the corpse in the middle of the room, although Shane Ross must have been wrinkling his nose and checking for signs of life.

Lord Ross, displaying a lack of discretion and a dismal grasp of the art of negotiating, wrote of their previous meeting with Enda in his newspaper column on Sunday.

“Sometime in the middle of the exchanges an awful truth dawned. We were possibly in dialogue with a political corpse,” he wrote.

Perhaps posh Ross should go to classy Michael Healy-Rae for a lesson in how to win friends and influence people.

The Kerry Independent, who brought his brother Danny into the Dáil on his surplus votes, wasn’t in the least bit bothered by the various meetings taking place with his fellow Independents.

As they enjoyed their place in the sun, Healy-Rae got on with settling back into work.

Serious talking

And sure, they know where he is if they need him . . .

As it is, most, if not all of the Independents will abstain when the vote for taoiseach comes around.

The general view around the corridors yesterday was that all this political posturing is just filling time until the real battle to form a government begins.

Meanwhile, nominations for ceann comhairle close this evening. In the meantime, a few more hats whizzed into contention, among them Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan and Andrew Doyle, and the dark horse in this race, Independent Maureen O’Sullivan.

While this is going on, another set of politicians were limbering up for the Seanad elections.

Unlike many of their friends in the Lower House, they still have to fight a campaign.

Some who didn’t make it back to the Dáil in the general election are very glad to have the Seanad now, despite previous pronouncements about its general uselessness when they were TDs.

So more hats were flying around the place for places in the Upper House.

But no real business is being done in Leinster House as the search for a new government continues. It’s a quiet place, for the moment.

There’s something very familiar about this new politics.

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