ATOP a sewage plant with the wind swirling around him, Environment Minister Alan Kelly was speaking, but it was difficult to make out exactly what he was trying to say as the enveloping stench threatened to become overwhelming.
The photo-op in Dublin’s Ringsend was intended to show a thrusting minister in command of the situation, but instead acted as a telling metaphor for how the Government flushed what little credibility it had left down the toilet with the easily avoidable Irish Water calamity.
Across town Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin was at a “Lessons In Leadership” seminar. This initially delighted his party colleagues who have long felt Mr Martin needs an education in effective politics.
But their joy turned to bafflement when it emerged Mr Martin was actually giving the lessons in leadership, not taking them.
That was a shame as he could have passed on whatever he learned to the others in our sadly lacking political elite.
The Government’s all-out retreat on water has been a case in point, as it shifted from arrogance to dither to chaos in the space of days.
The bullying threats Enda Kenny used to make in the Dáil about cutting the supply of non-payers to a “trickle” have disappeared as a scrambling Government panics in the face of mass protests, yet is still unable to tell us what the prices will be as the Coalition fights its second self-indulgent water war.
With strategic brilliance, the last inter-governmental war erupted right in the middle of the local election campaign when Mr Kenny bounced Labour into an estimated €240 “average family” figure. But now Tánaiste Joan Burton has got revenge by telling the Dáil a family of four adults will pay less than €200.
It is the first interesting thing Ms Burton has said since becoming Labour leader on July 4, as she finally seemed to declare independence day, but paid an immediate price as Fine Gael started rubbishing her.
Apparently, it was all a “personal” view with no relevance — but seeing as this is the deputy prime minister addressing the national parliament, and not some auld one rambling at a bus stop, this interpretation of events seems most curious.
Or, as Enda Kenny put it in the manner of said auld one at said bus stop: “The Tánaiste is the Tánaiste, that is her constitutional seal of office, but when she is on her feet in the Dáil answering questions about her department in a personal capacity that is different than when she is the Tánaiste, say at a Government press conference.”
As Mr Kenny disappeared further into the Alice Through the Looking Glass rabbit hole of his own making, his potential successor Leo Varadkar looked increasingly uncomfortable beside him.
But perhaps, not as uncomfortable as when Mr Varadkar was found to be operating a secret Facebook page under his alter ego Eric Howell.
It was an unfortunate revelation as Enda’s slap-stick explaining and Leo’s squirming made them look like dated comedy duo Eric and Ernie.
Ms Burton denied that her comments marked the welcome return of “Rogue Joan”, but she has now set out her stall, and if the bills are bigger for a family of four her standing will be badly hit.
But if there is no leadership in Government or FF, surely we can rely on Sinn Féin, — which, despite falling ratings for its leader, is booming in the polls — for some salvation?
But, sadly, while taking a break from reminiscing about when his IRA buddies would take suspected sex offenders out and shoot them, Gerry Adams displayed a startling lack of economic knowledge regarding matter of the moment Irish Water.
Mr Adams saw nothing wrong in blithely announcing that he does not understand the pretty clear EU finance rules surrounding the utility, and his considered response to those rules he has not bothered to brush-up on is to tell Brussels to “Bugger off”.
Opponents also attacked Mr Adams for jetting off to a €500 a seat fund raising dinner in New York — but raising party cash in swanky surroundings is hardly a crime.
Especially given the dubious ways Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been accused of getting money in the past, and the terrifying crimes the republican movement has been linked to.
But if Mr Adams is not up to the job what about Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald? Unfortunately, Ms McDonald was all over the place again as she told Newstalk Breakfast she had no idea how many suspected paedophiles and rapists the republicans had moved across the border, before announcing that, sure, everybody knew about it, as they always got mentioned in the republican media when it happened.
So, if this inverse of the Times of London social register of high society — a republican lowlife register of sex offenders — existed, why can Sinn Féin not help get the names and details together to help the legitimate law and order State authorities track them down and ensure they do not re-offend?
But then Mr Adams and Sinn Féin always insist they are judged by different standards to everyone else — and in that they are clearly correct.
Could you imagine the uproar if Mr Kenny or Mr Martin tweeted the weird sexual innuendo that the Sinn Féin leader regularly does?
For someone who sees himself as an elder statesman of the country to favourite or retweet such comments as one regarding a “fragrant penis”, or the reference to Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom which read: “Hey bby girl, I got something LONG 4 ur BOTTOM,” is just grim.
Despite the furore over the flurry of sexual abuse allegations swirling around the Republican movement at the moment, Mr Adams saw fit to tweet again the poem that begins “Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise? That I dance like I have diamonds at the meeting of my thighs.”
No, it doesn’t upset me Mr Adams, but it does scare me a little bit, and raise serious questions about your judgement.
With all the energy on the left as anti-austerity campaigners bounce Sinn Féin into an unconvincing U-turn on boycotting water charges — just weeks after Mr Adams said such as stance would be “irresponsible” — can the lefty-pendents save us?
Erm, no, as their endemic petty factionalism condemns them to perpetual political irrelevance.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Looks like we got the dopes.
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