Georgie Porgie was consigned to the category of curiosity as he doesn't matter anymore


DÁIL SKETCH:GOD DOESN’T close one door without opening another. Covetous eyes are already being cast in the direction of George Lee’s parking space, writes MIRIAM LORD

Meanwhile, debate continues to rage in Leinster House over whether George is the author of his own misfortune or whether Fine Gael stand indicted for their disastrous handling of the fragile Lee.

And Fianna Fáil deputies continued to polish their one-liners. Recalling Willie O’Dea’s prescient remark about Lee a couple of weeks ago, one of them asked: “If George is Fine Gael’s bidet – none of them know precisely how to use him, but they feel he adds a bit of class – are they both now a busted flush?”

The party is still reeling following the shock resignation of their star signing. But by yesterday morning, the troops had regrouped sufficiently to mount a significant offensive against the man they once so effusively clasped to their bosom.

It’s strange, the way so many people were suddenly whispering knowingly about George leaving because he couldn’t bear the drop in salary.

Deputies – some of whom could scarcely have known the quiet Lee – nodded and winked and put the story about as a viable explanation for his abrupt departure from politics.

It was an attractive scenario, peddled by deputies and Senators from both sides. It made them look good in their own eyes and the media look bad – haven’t they been telling people for years that politicians aren’t in the job for the money? And then there were the self-righteous souls, bleating about how they have toiled for years in the shadows and yet, despite their considerable talents, they aren’t demanding a big job. (Just as well, as a refusal often offends.)

All the whispering in corridors smacked a little of a co-ordinated effort. Party big guns were also rolled out to diss their former deputy.

It was very unedifying.

By yesterday, Georgie Porgie was consigned to the category of curiosity. His actions were discussed, but he doesn’t matter anymore.

The general health of Fine Gael was the live issue and in the corners and the corridors, little huddles of deputies anxiously weighed up the party leader’s performances in the wake of George’s departure.

The strain of the last few days told on Enda Kenny’s face. For the second day in a row, he looked tense and preoccupied. He appeared distracted.

Brian Cowen, on the other hand, was in very good spirits, a living embodiment of the God doesn’t close one door but opens another school of thought.

George gone. Inda Kinny on the rack. What’s not good about that? No amount of prodding from the Opposition could knock him off his stride. He also returned to his early habit of treating the Fine Gael leader like a half-wit.

Enda wondered about the status of a Government statement on waste management policy. “It is not on headed paper or signed; it is just a Government statement,” he complained.

“Governments statements are never signed” snorted Biffo.

“Many of them are signed” persisted Enda.

“The last guy I knew who signed statements was a fella called P O’Neill. He is not in action at the moment,” retorted the Taoiseach, shooting a “neither competent nor qualified” look across the floor at Enda.

Labour’s Eamon Gilmore continued the waste management and incineration theme. “The only incineration policy this statement is addressing is the singeing of the Minister’s electoral behind in Ringsend,” he declared, sparking a full-scale outbreak of awful puns about smoke and combustion.

Biffo was highly entertained. “There are singeing and burning quips going on here. I hope someone gets a line out of it,” he growled happily, casting an eye towards the press bench.

Enda didn’t get involved.

Lucinda Creighton changed the subject to the ongoing confusion over the election of a new lord mayor for Dublin. She seemed to have the inside track on the mode of transport the eventual winner will be using. The lovely old carriage is out.

“What’s being proposed is a toothless mare,” complained Lucinda. (Or maybe it was mayor.) Meanwhile, Labour’s Emmet Stagg had his usual row with the Ceann Comhairle. “You’ll want to give him eight months to settle into the job” shouted Fianna Fáil’s Seán Power, and everyone laughed, except Enda.

Mary Harney was in the best of form, shooting the breeze with Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and Cowen. She left them, then did a swift U-turn and came back to impart another nugget. It must have been pretty juicy gossip, because she tripped up in her hurry to get back to them and nearly disappeared from view.

Coughlan went into paroxysms. Biffo grinned. Everyone laughed.

Enda didn’t.

But then, maybe the verdict was beginning to filter down from his media appearances the day before. (Worried FG people – when not attacking George – spent much of the day buttonholing people and asking them how they thought he did.)

In a telling exchange with TV3’s Ursula Halligan, Enda also sounded a bit too sorry for himself.

Pointing out that Barack Obama and other world leaders have been able to say in public that they messed up, he asked:

“How come the avalanche comes down on poor old Kenny’s head when he makes a bad gig?”

That’s something else he’ll have to learn.