Socialists a study in scaremongering as Enda stays on sunny side

Finally, the campaign for the referendum nobody really wanted, about the thing nobody really understands, was peaking.

United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett’s level of ever-increasing outrage was reaching such a crescendo that, like a five-year-old demanding attention, he blurted out the most frightening thing he could imagine — that a ticking “timebomb of austerity” was about to blow us all up if we dared defy him and did not vote no.

Blimey, and they accuse the yes side of scaremongering?

His Socialist buddies then gathered on Grafton St for a rather limp-looking photo-op outside AIB, where nine banner holders proclaimed their rage on placards screaming: “Billions For Bankers, Hardship For Us!”, “Bank Debt Not Our Debt!”, and, er, “Happy Hour — Half Price Tanning!”

Oh, it seems the last one was a capitalist plant, sullying the great cause of socialist misery with something positive to say.

The lonely tan-tastic placard bearer — trying to drum up business as the sun split the stones — had got mixed up with the doom-mongers of the looming Athenian-style apocalypse, and soon untangled himself from their miserably magnetic pull.

The eight remaining Socialists, including Dublin MEP Paul Murphy, were then left trying to occupy Grafton St on their own, but unfortunately it was already pre-occupied — by the search for the next frappuccino as passersby studiously ignored the protest and concentrated on the glorious summer sunshine.

The Socialists may only understand the word “fun” as the first syllable of the goal of bringing about the funeral of capitalism, but at least they showed up. It’s more than could be said for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, who appeared to have gone into hiding — talk about reds under the bed.

It took several phonecalls to his flunkies to ascertain where the suddenly timid Tánaiste would appear before his people. For a while it seemed as if the third secret of Fatima would reveal itself before the Tánaiste did — and then all was clear as Labour effectively announced: “Eamon’s not coming out to play today.”

Despite the campaign approaching its climax, and his own somewhat patchy performance for the yes side so far, Mr Gilmore was restricting himself to a few local radio slots and a slew of “private meetings”.

A crash in the polls that saw his party slide from also-ran status to mere irrelevance may have contributed to Mr Gilmore’s failure to show up on the campaign frontline.

So it was left to the Taoiseach to rally the Government’s troops and once again he proved that heat waves my come and go, but it is always sunny inside Enda Kenny’s head. Indeed, he self-generates a pulsating inner glow like a cracked valve at the Sellafield nuclear power plant.

Yes, he may be a widescreen wimp, too scared to be a Taoiseach on the telly if anybody else is allowed to contradict him, but you have to give him his due for valiantly taking to the streets as the human political punch bag of the campaign.

Enda has been rattled, splattered, and jostled right across Ireland as he battles for the referendum which he did everything to try and avoid holding, and which he — and the rest of Europe — knows has been completely overtaken by events.

And here he was again, reduced to opening what at first glance looked like a jumble sale, but in fact turned out to be an online shopping operation in a soulless industrial estate far away from those awful members-of-the-public types who have been giving Enda such a hard time of it — so, for once, the Taoiseach was safe from any threat of a rumble in the jumble.

And now it’s almost over. Unless you vote the wrong way and we do it all again in October. If we haven’t all been blown up by then.

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