Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald find some common ground in opening Dáil exchanges

They say you shouldn't throw stones when you live in a glasshouse, and for Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin, ensuring said house remained untouched was the order of the day on Tuesday.
Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald find some common ground in opening Dáil exchanges
Taoiseach Micheal Martin took his first Leader's Questions.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin took his first Leader's Questions.

They say you shouldn't throw stones when you live in a glasshouse, and for Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin, ensuring said house remained untouched was the order of the day on Tuesday.

The first leader's questions of this new patchwork government, much like the government itself, didn't so much leap from the trap as crawled out, checking over its shoulder.

As expected, the new Taoiseach, flanked by his "not angry just disappointed" Chief Whip Dara Calleary, was early and laughed as he was guided to his seat by an usher, as if he hadn't dreamt of sitting in that exact seat since 1989.

A hodge-podge of Fine Gael and Greens filed around him, all with fresh post-lockdown haircuts, while odd couples of TDs, now colleagues in government, chatted around the leader.

In what was the Taoiseach's previous seat, in filed Mary Lou McDonald, now the first female leader of the opposition, flanked by Pearse Doherty.

When the session kicked off, in front of the 17 men and four women present (not including the busts of more men who line the chamber), the Sinn Féin leader took to her feet to talk about

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A fitting first topic from the first female opposition leader in a state which historically has at best left its women behind, and at worst, actively harmed them.

A safe jumping-off platform too; few would argue that we should ignore the needs of these women, and Micheál Martin definitely wouldn't.

The new Taoiseach was agreeable, and despite some back and forth about how it would be done legally and some waffly words about policy, no sparks flew. At one point, Mary Lou McDonald said that the pair were "of one mind" on the issue.

How a mind which is half Micheál Martin and half Mary Lou McDonald would work on a day-to-day basis is grounds for a half-decent sitcom, however.

All was well it seemed - it was clear "uncontroversial" was to be the order of the day.

The elephants in the room were filling up the socially-distanced seat spaces, while the two leaders stared straight ahead, wide-eyed, telepathically saying: "If you don't mention it, neither will I."

The

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The Dáil chamber remained silent as the Labour leader relayed all the transgressions of the government and the opposition in the last week.

He who was without sin told Micheál Martin he had endured "the shortest honeymoon period for government in the history of the state, amounting to about two hours".

No stone went unturned in the following minutes: Barry Cowen's drink-driving, Bobby Storey's funeral, Norma Foley looking after Kerry, Billy Kelleher

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The usual cheering and heckling from the wings never came, the chamber sat stony-faced and awkward as Kelly pilloried "cute hoorism" back in government and questioned if Fianna Fáil, like Sinn Féin, were "above the law".

Then came the first major disagreement of the session from the Turners Cross Taoiseach.

A more animated Micheál Martin disagreed with Kelly's description of his first week.

He said he "hadn't wasted an hour" and had been "totally focused", which is likely true. It's just that this focus, while Martin will see it as a propensity for "getting things done", might be now viewed as having his head in the sand while ignoring his own party members plotting his demise, withholding information from him, and making rookie mistakes despite being no rookies to government themselves.

A notably subdued first session, with sinners on both sides, viewers shouldn't get too comfortable - this won't stand for long.

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