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Column: Cardinal Rules – On keeping the FF dream alive…

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland blesses a new hotel for old pal and ex-Fianna Fáil TD Mattie O’Moore – and learns a little about humility and the value of the JobBridge scheme.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

THIS WEEK I was asked to bless a new hotel by my old friend and ex Fianna Fáil TD Mattie O’Moore.

I arrived into the hotel car park to find an enthusiastic band of about half a dozen supporters. Mattie was there with his son and handler, Mattie junior. Mattie senior was already “working the crowd” and had his supporters whipped up into a frenzy as he made his second pass among them to shake hands.

In a quiet moment Mattie took me aside. Losing his seat had obviously changed him, both physically and mentally. “I was down to sixteen stone at one stage with the stress and the worry,” he said. “But the humility I learned from the loss of my seat compensated for that.”

“And so did the chicken dinners, daddy, isn’t that right?” laughed Mattie junior. Mattie gave his son an indulgent smile and turned back to me.

“Basically, the electorate were sending us a message. They were asking us to listen to them, and we’re listening now.”

“With both ears,” said Mattie junior as he cupped his ears and listened to the breeze for messages from the electorate. After a few seconds he took his hands down. “Nothing yet, daddy,” he shrugged.

“What people need to understand is that Fianna Fáil  is…is…” Mattie senior looked lost for a moment. “Flash cards, Daddy,” said Mattie junior. Mattie senior rummaged in his jacket pocket, brought out a card and read it. “I am very pleased today to be at the unveiling of…”

“Wrong flash card, Daddy,” yelped Mattie junior. Mattie senior once again reached inside his jacket pocket and brought out a card, and read: “What you need to understand is that Fianna Fáil  is now uniquely placed to take advantage of an upsurge in positive public sentiment…”

“Uniquely placed,” said Mattie Junior as he gave a little clap.

“…allied to the inevitable improvement in our economic fortunes.” Mattie smiled. Mattie Junior leaned in, pointed at the flash card, and whispered “Under a new Fianna Fáil  government.” “Of course, under a new Fianna Fáil  government,” grinned Mattie.

“Let me be clear abut this…”

I considered telling Mattie senior that I was in no way influencing his clarity, and indeed that the intelligibility of his statements was entirely under his own control, but I let it pass.

“Let me be clear about this,” he said again in order to be clear. “Fianna Fáil  are about the common good, and we are beyond the petty concerns of self interest.”

‘Mammy IS the interview board’

At that moment Mattie junior was taking a phone call. He tapped his father on the shoulder “Mammy says they’re down to two candidates for the post of your personal secretary. It’s between cousin Margaret and Aunty Jean.”

Mattie frowned for a moment. “Well who’s on the interview board?”

“Mammy is the interview board,” replied Mattie Junior.

“Get her to toss a coin so, and give the post of assistant to the personal secretary to whoever loses.”

“Bang on, daddy. Bang on.” Mattie junior was straight back on the phone.

Mattie senior tilted his head towards me. “Lookit,” he held his hands out with palms facing each other, his shoulders were hunched forward. I noticed Mattie junior subconsciously adopting the same pose. “Lookit, I’m not going to lie to you.”

“Daddy, shouldn’t you ring your solicitor first before making statements you might not be able to stand ove-”

“Be quiet, Matthew.” Mattie senior fixed me with a determined gaze. “Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned. The kind of excess that lead to our current economic woes will not be repeated.”

You wouldn’t get Heston Blumenthal for fifty euro

“I’m down to three hotels from a total of five myself,” said Mattie junior sadly. “But this time next year I’m hoping to make it an even seven,” he said perking up.

“In this very hotel here we are creating thirty new jobs,” said Mattie senior. And as if on cue a mini bus arrived. A group of twenty or so people stumbled out, blinking in the light. They all looked dishevelled and lost.

“I know this JobBridge thing is a Fianna Gael-Labour concoction. But in its own way it’s a godsend.” The people from the bus shuffled slowly towards the hotel. “See that one there with the suit? He has a PhD in chemistry no less. Only quality for this hotel.”

“He is going to make the best hang sangwiches ever,” said Mattie junior. “Heston Blumenthal wouldn’t get a look in.”

“And besides, we couldn’t get Heston Blumenthal for fifty euro,” said Mattie senior.

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(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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