Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 4 December, 2021

Column: Cardinal Rules - Our day with Mahon

This week, the not Primate of All Ireland recounts the anguish of the Mahon report – especially the bit where he tried to download it.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

YESTERDAY WAS A real “red letter day” and a “wake up call” for Irish politics. Here in the house we were glued to every minute.



Big excitement as we all gather around the computer for the release of the Mahon Report.

“Here it comes,” says Fr Lawlor. He smiles broadly as he hits download.

“Not long now.” he says.


“Here it comes,” says Fr Lawlor.

“You said that fifteen minutes ago,” grumbles Fr Ryan.

Fr Lawlor ignores him. “Not long now,” he says as he smiles through gritted teeth.


The Mahon report has now downloaded, but we can’t do anything because the Angelus bell is ringing. Nobody moves (except Fr Cronin who has a twitch). Fr Lawlor is tensed, ready to devour the report in its entirety. The only sounds are the sounds of the bell ringing, and Fr O’ Neill breathing through his mouth.


“Shocking. Appalling. Scandalous.” Just some of the words flying around the room as we contemplate the fact that successive governments have failed to deliver a broadband system that will allow the immediate delivery of a 3,000 page PDF.


Thanks to the benefits of a Christian Brothers education, in particular the iron fist and blackthorn stick of the late Brother Augustine, Fr O’Leary has read the report in five minutes flat. He gives us a focused and succinct synopsis (again, thank you the late Brother Augustine).

“I can’t believe it,” says a shocked Fr Tierney.

“It’s mindboggling,” says Fr Deegan.

“I know,” says Fr Lawlor, “I mean we knew all this stuff already.”

Everyone nods in agreement, except for Fr Dunne who is in a corner crying about Padraig Flynn.


A quick nip of brandy, and a red eyed Fr Dunne is restored to relative normality.

“I gave him that tenner in good faith,” he sniffs.

“There, there,” says Fr Burke swigging from the brandy bottle.

“He said it was for a new school building. How could I have been so blind?” he cries.

“Maybe it was the teeth. He has very shiny teeth,” offers Fr Lawlor. “I hear he gets them done three times a year.”

We decide that it was possibly Pee Flynn’s undoubted charisma, and his general buccaneering can do demeanour that so blinded Fr Dunne. As for his taking the tenner, we decide that it was his general buccaneering “I can do what I like and nobody will stop me” demeanour.

“He’s so debonair,” sighs Fr Deegan.


The One O’Clock News is on RTE 1. Bryan Dobson is talking to Fianna Fáil TD Mattie O’ Moore.

“This is very serious indeed, Bryan. The implications are staggering, and it’s a bad day for Irish politics.”

“And a bad day for Fianna Fail in particular?” offers Bryan Dobson.

“No, just for Irish politics in general,” replies Mattie.

“But the implications for Fianna Fail-”

“Irish politics in general,” retorts Mattie (for fifteen minutes).


A stunned looking Dara Calleary is carried into the studio after his radio interview with Sean O’Rourke, but then has to be carried back out again because Mattie refuses to be moved.


The One O’Clock News is over. We have had no sports news, and no weather forecast.

“It’s all Bertie Ahern’s fault,” says Fr Lynch shaking his fist.


Despite all the media attention there is no sign of Bertie Ahern anywhere. There is also no sign of Pee Flynn, mainly because nobody can figure which one of his three houses he is in.


Fr Lawlor has analysed the news footage of Bertie Ahern’s house on Beresford Avenue.

“You can clearly see a figure at one of the windows,” he tells us. And indeed we can.

“Who’s that standing behind him putting a consoling hand on his shoulder?” asks Fr Lynch.

“I’m not sure,” says Fr Lawlor.

“He appears to be quoting Plato,” says Fr Ryan who can lip read.

“Eoghan Harris!” exclaims everybody.

We watch the footage for a few more minutes, and we feel a warm collective glow as we contemplate the quality of character it takes for one man to be there for another in times of trouble.

“Aw, look. Matching dressing gowns,” simpers Fr Lawlor.


We watch Prime Time. Dara Calleary in on the panel. For a brief moment he looks at something off screen.

“He’s going for it. He’s going for the exit!” shouts Fr Lawlor.

But poor frozen Dara stays where he is.

“The legs are gone,” says Fr Ryan. “I’ve seen it happen before.”


Almost everybody is going to bed except Fr Byrne who is staying up. He claims he is feeling “a little fragile”, so rather than watch Vincent Browne he has decided to watch a no-holds-barred documentary about Mexican fighting dogs.

Meanwhile, Fr Lawlor and Fr Deegan  are still chatting about the day’s events.

“This is a defining moment in Irish politics,” says Fr Lawlor.

“Just like that previous defining moment in Irish politics when nothing happened afterwards,” says Fr Deegan.

And they laugh.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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