MICHAEL CLIFFORD: Poking policies for new year predictions

The bright, shining star of the campaign will turn out to be John Perry, the former, current, and future member of Fine Gael, writes Michael Clifford

THE year ahead is laid out unwritten, but three events are set to dominate the first half of 2016. Coming fast down the tracks is the general election. If politics doesn’t float your boat, best to hibernate until mid-March. A hard rain is a-gonna fall.

The first major question to be addressed is where exactly will Fine Gael hide Enda Kenny?

Some reports suggest that party honchos are already fitting out an armour-plated trailer in a secluded corner of West Kerry where the Taoiseach will be detained while his party seeks re-election.

The last time out, Mr Kenny was nowhere to be seen when it came to debating or interacting with the media. He did the routine canvassing, perfecting the art of pointing his finger into the crowd, à la Bruce Springsteen, but it was made obvious from the off that he would not entertain any tricky questions.

The presumption is that the same tactic will apply this time around. Fine Gael is sailing towards victory in the polls. The country is, once more, allegedly awash with money. Tax cuts will be spread like manure across a tilled field. All that can go wrong is for Enda to appear on TV and cause a cohort of voters to sit up and take notice of the man who would be re-elected Taoiseach.

There will be much else to amuse. Expect, in the coming week or so, former Fianna Fáil TD Conor Lenihan to ramp up his efforts to get back in the game. Rumour has it that he will star in a reality TV show with Mary O’Rourke.

Fifty Ways To Kill Your Auntie will have Conor and Mary traipsing around Ireland looking for a nomination and should end up with Conor being welcomed into Sinn Féin, where old Fianna Fáilers go to be reborn these days.

The bright, shining star of the campaign will turn out to be John Perry, the former, current, and future member of Fine Gael. Perry will march on now that he has forced the Fine Gael top brass to allow him run for the party. He will top the poll in Sligo/Leitrim and throw a spanner in the works on election night.

“John Perry said he would seek to get justice and now John Perry has done so,” John Perry will say. “After being put under tremendous pressure from the grassroots of the party, John Perry is now allowing his name — John Perry — to go forward to contest the leadership of the party.” Security in the West Kerry area will immediately be tightened up.

There will be a trip to the High Court during the campaign. Fine Gael will apply to have all leaders’ debates cancelled on the basis that the Taoiseach is unavoidably detained and can’t participate.

Following hundreds of thousands being spent in legal fees, a settlement will finally be arrived at. The other leaders will agree that David Cameron can substitute for Mr Kenny.

Mr Cameron will thereafter take a more active role in the campaign, sparking a controversy in the wake of a speech from Micheál Martin asking was it for this that the men of 1916 died.

Mr Martin will have his own woes. As pressure builds to revisit the Eighth Amendment he will recommend that the issue be first discussed by the UN and thereafter the matter pass on to Fifa. From there it should be referred to Donald Trump, who will add his tuppence worth and hand it over to a global congregation of the Moonies.

According to Mr Martin’s process, the matter should then be referred back to this country where David McSavage — scion of a good Fianna Fáil family — shall oversee a dissemination of views before handing over the final decision on the matter to the executive council of the Irish Farmers’ Association.

Only then will Mr Martin declare that he has no view whatsoever on repealing the Eighth.

The past will continue to haunt Sinn Féin during the campaign. A raid on Gerry Adams’ constituency office by 1,250 armed gardaí will recover some vital evidence in the personage of Mr Adams’ teddy bear.

Word will be leaked from the gardaí through the usual channels that secreted in the teddy bear are details of Mr Adams’ role in the republican movement over the last 40 years.

Sinn Féin will claim that teddy bears are now joining the party at large as victims. There will be speculation that this latest development has thrust the peace process into its darkest hour.

Mr Adams will be appointed leader for life. Word will seep out that there was a minor disagreement as to whether he should retain the role in the afterlife, as he was a late starter, having only entered the struggle at the time of the peace process. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Labour will have a quiet election. Conor McGregor will be drafted in to kickstart the troops. At a rallying meeting with the members, Mr McGregor will find himself in conflict with Alan Kelly. A row will ensue. Mr Kelly will join battle and knock out Mr McGregor after 16 seconds. The experience will lead Alan Kelly to announce that he is quitting politics to take up cage fighting. By year’s end, Alan Kelly will appear on The Late Late Show with the world title, declaring he has no intention of paying his water charges.

The Labour Party will make history by returning a minus number of seats.

The second major event will be the commemoration of the centenary of 1916. The smart money says that all the major parties will milk this occasion with the facility of an EU-subsidised dairy farmer.

It would be nice to think that somebody might acknowledge that while the leaders were men of unimpeachable bravery, they never had to involve themselves in the messy business of exercising power. And while the Proclamation was a fine document, the same may be said of numerous election manifestos since the foundation of the State — and what became of them?

Finally, the summer will bring forth the froth of life with the European Championships. We all know how this is going to end.

The team will repair to Corsica to acclimatise and, sure as hell, the balls supplied will be the wrong colour. Roy Keane will blow a gasket. Napoleon will be invoked. Martin O’Neill will send Roy home. A nation will tear itself apart.

In the end, Roy will agree to an interview, on the promenade in Salthill, to be conducted by Teresa Mannion, on a set built by Lenny Abrahamson, which will depict a raging storm.

“Roy, Roy,” Teresa will shout into the elements: “what about the children?”

To which there will be only one reply from the bould Mr Keane: “Obviously, at the end of the day, all credit to the children.”

Happy New Year.


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