The catechism of election cliché – An Irishman’s Diary with apologies to Myles na gCopaleen

Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Photograph: Cyril Byrne


The catechism of election cliché (with apologies to Myles na gCopaleen). What was that shooting noise we just heard? The opening salvos of the campaign.

But what do we need to remember? That we have a whole three weeks of this to go.

And how much can happen during that time? A lot.

After all, which apparently short calendar unit is famously extensive in politics? A week.

Describe the shortcomings, photographic and chronological, of the latest opinion poll? 

It’s only a snapshot in time.

And while it may be disappointing, which is the only poll that matters? The one on February 26th. 

In the meantime, what do the figures not correspond with? What we’re hearing on the doorsteps.

Apart from the doorsteps, where else are the figures not reflected? On the ground.

This means that your message is clearly doing what with voters? Resonating.

Which unspecified incidences, accompanied by an expression of fraternal affection, could yet upset all predictions? Events, dear boy.

And what sort of changer could that be? A game changer.

All politics are what, as Tip O’Neill said? Local. 

At which chronological extremity do we always need to remind ourselves of that? The end of the day.

What did we inherit from the previous crowd? An economic mess.

Which carpeted feature of a second-storey building had they promised us? A soft landing.

And where is that soft landing now? Rotting on a ghost estate in Longford.

So let’s be what about this?  Very clear.

The electorate faces which kind of choice? A stark one.

And which kind of alternative are we offering? A real one.

What mild form of exercise are we engaged in for families? Standing up.

For what kind of families in particular are we standing up? Hard-working ones.

As well as hard-working families, which unfortunately superlative people have our policies been about protecting? The most vulnerable.

 But try telling that to the people on what, Minister?  Hospital trollies.

Or to the woman I met where and when? This morning, at the health clinic.

What complete flotation device, loaded with measures, have we introduced to help first-time buyers? A whole raft.

And in what direction, regarding an unspecified wooden object, did we help such people? Across the board.

Speaking of directions, which vital piece of orientation equipment have our opponents clearly mislaid? Their moral compass.

But what do these latest utterances prove the Minister has lost, regarding the ordinary working person? Touch.

Which of your immediate ancestors did I know well? Your father.

So you’ll do what on election day now, won’t you? Remember me.

In which way could you let me get a word in, Vincent? Edgeways.

What are we not going to do, no matter how many times you ask? Second-guess the electorate. Let’s wait and do what first? Count the votes.

What do these early tallies come with? A health warning.

Because where are most of the boxes opened so far from? Roscommon, where the hospital issue is still a big factor.

What sort of outlawed blood sport does it now look like being for the last seat in Laois-Offaly? A dogfight.

But what form of amicability could yet see Johnny Murphy over the line on the 17th count? He’s very transfer-friendly.

What have the people just done? Spoken.

And what does Michael Lowry’s poll-topping performance tell us about the voters of North Tipperary?

That they’re not much interested in what the Dublin media thinks.

At what sort of junction does this election result leave Sinn Féin? At a crossroads.

What kind of commerce involving livestock will now begin in earnest? The horse-trading.