AH, the smack of firm Government! How we have missed it these past three years.
A brass plaque in one of the suites upstairs at the Highlands Hotel where the MacGill Summer School gathers bears the legend: Meryl Streep Slept In This Room — downstairs in the conference hall, a new totem should now be erected proclaiming the news: Michael McDowell Awoke In This Room.
Yes, the master politician who made the Progressive Democrats what they are today — dead and buried — was back centre-stage, lecturing the nation on how to revive the Republic.
But, oh the strange coyness of a man once known for his naked, gnawing ambition.
Despite leaving the door decidedly ajar for an attempted Dáil comeback, the former justice minister denied he was using the MacGill summer school to engage in a bout of “political flirting” to see if anyone would consider him a catch after all this time wandering in the wilderness.
Still, he knew his audience was looking for a thrill as one gets the distinct impression that there is really not much to do in Glenties, Donegal, once the MacGill political circus has left town.
Indeed, a number of shops in the village have a whole shelf groaning under the weight of what can only be described as, ahem, mildly erotic ladies’ novels which feature racy covers and even racier titles such as His Untamed Innocent and The Bride’s Betrayal.
Steamy stuff certainly, but not half as suggestive as the twinkle in Mr McDowell’s eye as he responded to the question of his possible return to the bosom of the body politic with the teasingly opaque: “Every Irish man and woman should be willing to help out in whatever way they can.”
Well, if this was not flirting with that dear old embodiment of the emerald isle Kathleen Ní Houlihan, it was damn near close enough.
Some in the audience swooned at the prospect of yet more McDowell while a greater number appeared to recoil at a return to frontline politics for a man more remembered for his bombast than any batch of achievements.
And Big Mac’s language was, as ever, unashamedly over the top as he referred to the North’s “dissident political psychopaths” — as opposed to its mainstream political psychopaths, presumably?
Mr McDowell was clearly enjoying the attention he once so craved and courted before being consigned to the political trash-can along with the party he longed to lead, but plunged into despair and disintegration within months of him taking the helm.
His own vanity party, a marriage of convenience with Fine Gael — who knows? But the man who infamously scaled the heights of that Ranelagh lamp post is on the rise once again — this time from the ranks of the political undead.
You have been warned.
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