No one smells of roses in Lisbon window dressing

CRAMMED awkwardly into the window of Arnott’s, Declan Ganley and Micheál Martin were wedged between the perfume counters, but Mairead McGuinness could smell only one thing — testosterone.

The Fine Gael MEP insisted there was too much of it hanging over the makeshift Lisbon debating table, set up by the Pat Kenny Show so shoppers on Henry Street could gawp at the gathering through the glass, and she wanted it gone.

“She means they’re talking bollocks,” observed one seasoned ex-minister watching proceedings nearby.

So began an extraordinary hour of mouth-to-ear combat which saw the two chief protagonists sitting next to suitably fitting fragrances as Libertas founder and self-proclaimed saviour of Irish freedom Mr Ganley was flanked by a shelf of Sean John’s fragrance for men, I am King, and the Foreign Minister by DKNY’s Delicious.

Well, “delicious” is what Dolores and Annie clearly thought about Mr Martin anyway. The Henry Street ladies of a certain age, complete with northside accents thicker than Rody Molloy’s pension book, would likely have said yes to anything the minister might have asked of them, well beyond ratifying the treaty.

“Oooh, he’s bleedin’ gorgeous! And I never realised he was so tall! I’m telling ya, he’s gorgeous!” Dolores trilled as Annie cut in: “I got so excited when I saw him, he’s lovely!”

Unsurprisingly, Mr Ganley did not share the views of Dolores and Annie, he believed Mr Martin was nothing but the mouthpiece for the Government’s pro-Lisbon lie machine.

But then all six participants were accused of lying at some point in the hour-long, mud-slinging match, which means that by the law of averages at least one of them must have been telling the truth about another’s lies. But who to trust?

The Ganley groupies thronging the front of the shop certainly had no faith in RTÉ to relay the great man’s wisdom to the nation.

When his microphone began to malfunction they smelt a rat, and after a street-cleaning machine stopped directly by them, drowning out the Irish patriot’s piercing English accent, they smelt much more than that and railed against dirty tricks involving the vendor with dirty broomsticks who was clearly working in conjunction with the sinister state broadcaster.

Thankfully, the sound problems were soon sorted out and we could all focus back onto the session of speed-lying, sorry, informed debate, exploding across the shop window.

Ms McGuinness was by now adopting the unusual tactic of repeatedly telling listeners to switch off the radio and go and have a nice walk to think about things instead, interspersed with attacking the male participants for their aggression before rounding on the only other female panel member, ex-Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, with palpable venom.

Then Mr Martin also laid into Ms McDonald with a lash of venomous fury, shouting as he did so (bet she didn’t think he was “gorgeous”), while Yes champion Pat Cox and Mr Ganley looked ready to square up as Socialist MEP Joe Higgins waved newspapers in the air to highlight the media conspiracy for Lisbon.

Poor ringmaster Mr Kenny looked as if he’d rather be anywhere — even in the middle of a messy land dispute — as the six panellists lurched back and forth in anger, snarling at each other like restrained pit bulls.

They had certainly managed to give each other a (window) dressing down, but whether anyone watching bought their arguments remains to be seen.


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