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Column: Cardinal Rules - On how Inkgate goes all the way to the top

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland investigates the full extent of Inkgate – and finds out about Richard Bruton’s addiction to novelty erasers…

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

THIS WEEK I was asked to observe as Fr Lawlor took his already brilliant media skills to new heights.

Tuesday 9a.m.
Fr Lawlor is in the office of the parish newsletter. In his few months as editor he has turned it from a one sheet into an eight sheet “with staples” at the cutting edge of news reporting.

Fr Lawlor is screaming “Stop the press!” at young Fr Deegan. Unfortunately Fr Deegan cannot stop the press, because it takes him a few minutes to locate the off button on the photocopier.

Fr Lawlor wants to run the story about Aengus Ó’ Snodaigh spending €50,000 on print cartridges in two years.

“The public has a right to know,” says Fr Lawlor pounding his desk with his fist.

Printing is delayed as Fr Deegan searches for a bandage for Fr Lawlor’s hand.

This week’s edition is printed. Fr Lawlor proudly surveys all nine copies. “This is going to be a defining moment in journalism,” he says proudly.

The newsletter has to be reprinted. Fr Lawlor is disgusted, mainly with Fr Deegan’s excuse that “Fr Brennan assured me that it was spelt Snotwig.”

Printing halted due to lack of toner. We can literally feel the weight of the irony.

Wednesday 9a.m.
A dishevelled looking Fr Lawlor enters the office. He has been up all night watching “All the President’s Men” and he says it has inspired him to approach the “Inkgate” scandal in a whole new way.

“This thing goes all the way to the top. I’m sure of it,” he says.

Fr Lawlor is on the phone talking to his source in Dáil Éireann. He is taking notes and making lots of serious sounds to convey the importance of his investigation. He puts down the phone, sits back, laces his hands across his chest, and pauses for dramatic effect.

“Gerry Adams has taken three rolls of sellotape from the Dáil stationery cupboard in the past week alone,” he intones gravely.

We let the news sink in. A shocked Fr Deegan has to steady himself on his desk.

“The question is, what’s he using it for?” says Fr Lawlor stroking his chin and narrowing his eyes.

“I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m going to find ou-” he says, cutting himself short after slamming his bad hand on his desk.

Fr Lawlor finally stops rocking in his chair, but he is still stroking his bad hand. He has asked Fr Deegan to investigate Richard Bruton’s alleged addiction to novelty erasers. The investigation is moving slowly but deliberately.

Thursday 3p.m.
Fr Lawlor’s delving into “Stationerygate” is halted momentarily as news of Éamon Ó’ Cuív’s resignation overshadows everything. “Word on the street” is that the FF grassroots are unhappy. Fr Lawlor proposes that we attend a cumman meeting that night. That way he says we can “get in on the ground floor.” Fr Deegan isn’t sure about what he means. Fr Lawlor tells him to stop being picky just because he is running out of journalism clichés.

We are in a corner in a small back room in a pub, blending in nicely with our three 7Ups and our cheese and onion crisps. The room is full of lots of large sweaty gentlemen blustering about and talking more than a little incoherently. Fr Lawlor is scribbling in his notebook.

A very large gentleman with no neck and tiny eyes is reeling around clutching a crumpled picture of Éamon De Valera while muttering “Dev Óg” over and over again.

Another man stands at a podium. “This is a sad day for Fianna Fáil,” he says. The crowd make angry whooping sounds, one man beats his chest. Somebody barks.

“Sad indeed, to see a great man set adrift by a morally bankrupt leadership.”

Tables are pounded. There is more whooping. Somebody growls. “Dev Óg,” shouts the large man waving his picture of De Valera.

The man at the podium lists Éamon Ó’ Cuív’s achievements while in government. There are cheers. Fr Lawlor asks him to read them out again: “Only more slowly this time so I can write them down.”

The man duly obliges and gives a full ten seconds this time. Again there are more cheers. “Dev Óg,” shouts the large man now perilously close to tears.

“Well we won’t stand to see a great man treated in such a fashion!” says the man at the podium. There are roars. The room is in uproar. There is more chest beating, lots more incoherent shouting. Somebody is swinging from a light fitting. People are jumping on tables. The large man is crying now and crashing into things while shrieking “Dev Óg! Dev Óg!” and squeezing his picture of De Valera between the sweaty fingers of his fist. It is at this point that the chair throwing starts.

“Why do I suddenly feel like David Attenborough?” squeaks Fr Deegan.

Friday 10a.m.
Fr Lawlor has decided that the  Éamon Ó’ Cuív story has run its course. Meanwhile, he is back to investigating “Stationerygate.” After a particularly serious phone call he sits us down to tell us how things are progressing.

“It seems that the Independent Technical Group’s use of Tipp-Ex far exceeds that of any other group in Dáil Eireann.”

He says nothing for a moment.

“I know what you’re thinking, and you’re not thinking Shane Ross,” he says.

We mull it over. Fr Lawlor looks grim faced.

“Ming,” he says darkly.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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