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The A-Z of Election 2011

Election 2011
The A-Z of Election 2011

Daniel Carey

A is for Ajai Chopra of the IMF, whose arrival in Dublin prompted Vanity Fair to describe Dublin as “an occupied city”. The Department of Finance has set up a unit in Merrion Street to deal with IMF issues. Silly me ... I thought the whole country was an IMF issue.

B is for Black Hole, a figure of €5 billion which Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore argued about during the five-way leaders’ debate. “They want to go into government together,” sighed Micheál Martin when the squabbling died down.

is for Christy Burke, an Independent candidate in Dublin Central. When he ran for Sinn Féin back in 1987, a woman told Burke that the leaflets he was handing out were rubbish. He replied: “You’re right too missus – just remember the name”.

D is for “Drugs, Drugs, Drugs”, the three reasons for violence in Limerick, according to James Reilly. Throw in Leo Varadkar’s denial of a link between poverty and poor health, and there’s clearly few sociology degrees in Fine Gael.

E is for Empty Chair which, disappointingly, TV3 didn’t use to symbolise Enda Kenny’s absence from the first leaders’ debate. “I love Enda, but if it was me, I would look [Vincent] Browne in the eye, tell him what I thought of him, and then walk out,” one man texted Midwest Radio.

F is for Fear Of Promotion, which many Fianna Fáil TDs expressed around the time of Brian Cowen’s botched reshuffle. “If I went back to my constituency in a State car, I would be stoned to death,” one rural deputy told The Irish Times.

G is for Gerry Adams, whom Micheál Martin said would make “a great host for ‘The Late Late Show’” with his ‘one for everybody in the audience’ approach. Adams would be “a magician” if he could deliver on his campaign promises, said Martin.

H is for Hurlers on the Ditch, an accusation that was levelled at the aborted Democracy Now movement after it claimed the election had come too soon to field candidates. Democracy Now has become Democracy Next Time – Maybe.

I is for Irish, the language through which the third leaders’ debate was conducted. Eamon Gilmore stressed the importance of “leathan bhanda (broadband)”, a new word for those of us who did our Leaving Cert in the 20th century.

J is for John Gormley, who during an event at a Unitarian Church was seated in front of the words ‘Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Voters may not be so forgiving.

K is for Kisses, which Eamon Dunphy was offering while canvassing on St Valentine’s Day in return for the promise of votes for Shane Ross, who’s standing as an Independent in Dublin South.

L is for Leitrim, where a secondary school teacher told a reporter from RTÉ’s Prime Time programme: “I’ll probably get lynched for saying this, but I’ll vote Fianna Fáil”. Asked why, she replied: “I don’t know”.

M is for Minister, which Eamon Gilmore repeatedly called Micheál Martin during the TV3 leaders’ debate. It echoed the Limerick woman who heard in the late 1940s that the Taoiseach and Mrs Costello were in Paris and thought Eamon de Valera had run off with another man’s wife.

N is for Ned O’Keeffe, the outgoing Cork TD who claimed that an Army coup was a “real possibility”. Attacking “the two Brians” for making “a mess” of the country, he called Charlie Haughey “the best leader we ever had”.

O is for Oireachtas stationary, always a bone of contention at election time. RTÉ’s Fergal Keane said that when initial rumours of government collapse started, all around Leinster House “people were loading up their cars with envelopes”.

P is for Portlaoise, where RTÉ reporter David McCullagh was (wrongly) accused of public urination by a drunk man. “Things can only get better,” the broadcaster mused on Twitter.

Q is for Questions, one of which was asked by a young woman on the Galway-Ballina bus after Brian Cowen came on the radio. “What party is he, that guy who's ruining the country?” she asked.

R is for Red, the tie colour (along with blue shirts) sported by four leaders during the five-way debate. “They look like a bad boy band,” @ElectionFever11 said on Twitter.

S is for Star, as in Irish Daily Star, which ran a front-page picture of the cabinet with the headline ‘Useless Gobshites’, and echoed Leonard Cohen in a story on bankers: ‘First They Broke Manhattan, Now They’ll Break Berlin’.

T is for Twenty-Four, the number of candidates running in Wicklow, including 14 Independents. Political analyst Odhran Flynn has said that the ballot paper will be like a piece of toilet roll.

U is for Universal Social Charge, the levy for health and social services, described as an “act of gross terrorism” by Gerry Adams. We kid you not.

V is for Valentine’s Night, which coincided with the televised five-way leaders’ debate. Micheál Martin said he could think of better ways to spend February 14. By the end, even the singletons among us agreed wholeheartedly.

W is for Winkle, as in Rip Van, with whom Enda Kenny compared the new Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. “Listening to Micheál, you’d swear he was never in government,” said Kenny. Eamon Gilmore dubbed the Corkman ‘the great pretender’.

X is for X-Rated, which describes some of the exchanges between canvassers and voters. One Dublin householder told Labour’s Ivana Bacik that if anyone representing the government parties came near him, “I’m calling the guards”.

Y is for “Your MEPness”, the memorable title Labour’s Joan Burton bestowed on Socialist Joe Higgins during their ‘haranguing’ clash on ‘Tonight With Vincent Browne’. Say it out loud for maximum fun.

Z is for Zzzz, or sleep, but an early night isn’t always an option when political programmes runs until 12.30am. ‘Conor Lenihan loses it with Vincent Browne’ has attracted almost 40,000 hits on YouTube. Car crash TV.