Crystal ball predicts some political surprises and shocks in 2015

EVERY year at this time I go to very considerable lengths to tell you what you can expect in the coming year.

Crystal ball predicts some political surprises and shocks in 2015

All the oracles are consulted, I look up every lamp-post I can find, and if there are any witch’s cauldrons left in the winter sales I buy a couple. It’s not easy, but I know you depend on me to set your course for the coming year.

Mind you, I’m sitting down to work all this out after a great day out at the Paddy Power Chase Day in Leopardstown. It’s the only horse-racing I do, so it’s an annual outing I look forward to immensely.

Studying form, working out the odds, admiring the horses in the parade ring before I place nay bets. And of course, the bets are modest – never more than a fiver each way on the tote. And I lose every single bet I place.

Ah well. I’m ready to admit that if you want to back a winner at the racetrack, don’t follow my advice.

And I’m not going to make any rugby predictions. As a life-long lover of the game my heart is telling me that Ireland is going to win both the Six Nations and the World Cup this year. If I predict it, of course, I’ll put the mockers on them and I can’t afford to do that.

Mind you I was very nearly right last year. Not quite, but nearly. I did predict that Ireland would be pipped for the Six Nations Trophy in Paris. Sorry lads, I underestimated you ever so slightly.

I also said that every single seat in the local elections would be won by an independent candidate, and that the political parties would be wiped out. Not too far off the mark there.

I’m still waiting for Lucinda, Michael McDowell and Shane Ross to come up with the big announcement of a new party that I was expecting in the middle of last year, but they could prove me right this year.

So, here we go, month by month. You can cut these out and keep them – I’ll welcome all your congratulations as they come to pass.

January: Michael Martin, Leader of Fianna Fáil, has an identity crisis after he is described by Miriam O’Callaghan as “that balding man in the second row”. His team come up with a nickname for him to guarantee him instant recognition.

The name they choose is an amalgam of the initials of some of the former party leaders – Bertie, Eamon, Charlie and Seán Lemass. Becs Martin catches on and the leader’s ratings begin to climb steadily into double figures.

February: There is outrage when it is revealed that the board of Irish Water has purchased a private jet to enable its members to travel to international conferences on water conservation. The minister for the environment announces that the Government is to sequester the jet, and that it will only be used in future for aerial mapping of large water leaks.

March: In a surprise move, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan is recalled from Brussels to help Fine Gael get ready for a general election, which the Taoiseach announces will be held “some time in the future”.

Frank Flannery comes out of retirement to assist with candidate selection, and it is rumoured that the former CEO of Rehab Angela Kerins is helping the party with a new 5-point plan. “We’re sticking with tried and trusted values,” says Enda Kenny.

April: Finally, the long-awaited new party – Ireland First – is announced under the leadership of Lucinda Creighton. Political correspondents are shocked when Richard Boyd Barrett is announced as deputy leader. In its founding statement, the party announces that it will be a party of the radical right and left – “uniting all ideologies in the interests of the people”, the party says.

May: Details of the new party’s radical right/left agenda emerge. Among the top priorities will be extensive middle-class tax cuts. These are to be coupled with the immediate nationalisation of Aldi and Lidl.

The forced nationalisation of the German supermarket chains is described by party spokesperson Mick Wallace as Ireland’s revenge for the troika. “we’ll show ye how to stand up to Merkel”, he says.

June: Chancellor Merkel tells the Bundestag that “at the very least” Ireland will be expelled from the EU if an incoming government nationalises Aldi and Lidl. She refuses to rule out sanctions, including the immediate calling in of Ireland’s total debt. The leadership of Ireland First denounces this as an empty threat.

The first opinion poll since the formation of the new party shows they have the support of an amazing 92% of the people. “We’ll show Merkel where to put it,” says Mick Wallace, “and the people are right behind us.”

July: Aldi and Lidl jointly announce that all turkeys, hams and Christmas vegetables will be free in all their shops for as long as they remain in private ownership, and that the people of Ireland can look forward to continued good value at the end of each year.

Ireland First drops its nationalisation plans, saying it’s more interested in competition than a sterile ideological approach. Chancellor Merkel announces that she looks forward to constructive relationships with whatever government the Irish people elect.

August: The entire country basks in a heatwave. Irish Water announces that there is now a drought, and that people caught watering their lawns will be arrested on sight. The minister for the environment announces that the board of Irish Water will be arrested instead.

September: Ireland First opinion poll ratings drop to 64% after Lucinda is spotted having lunch in Drumcondra with Bertie Ahern. She explains that she bumped into him on her way to the Hurling Final, and that all he had done was offer a bit of advice about fund-raising. Her explanation is greeted with scepticism, on the basis that no-one from Dublin 4 ever attends the Hurling final.

October: Rumours emerge of discussions between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin about the possibility of a national government, to head off any possibility of an Ireland First government. Sinn Féin denies any involvement, although a party spokesperson acknowledges the need for “stability in the bond markets”.

November: In the run-up to what is being billed as Ireland’s second growth budget, there is speculation about massive tax cuts, free child care, and 100,000 new public sector jobs. Minister Noonan dismisses the speculation, saying with a chuckle, “sure anyone would think there’s a general election due, the way ye’re all going on”.

December: The budget contains massive tax cuts, free child care, and 100,000 new public sector jobs. Ireland First condemns the Government for seeking to buy the election with irresponsible policies, and promises if elected to protect the public finances with a new austerity programme.

Ireland First is widely praised in the media for its honesty and consistency, and its popularity increases once again. “They know what’s good for us’” is just one of the comments in an RTE vox pop.

Anyway, no matter what happens, I hope that you and all those you love have a happy, peaceful, and as prosperous a year as you deserve.

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