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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Column: Cardinal Rules - The Dana and Gay Mitchell wars

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland has to intervene when his troops split over supporting Gay Mitchell or Dana in the Presidential race. “Fr Ryan blacks out some of Gay’s teeth on a poster…”

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

IN A HOUSE full of Catholic clergymen you might think that we all share the same core beliefs, and that the polarisation of views only extends to which football club one supports.

But even in a house as ideologically homogenous as ours, tensions can still arise. This week the presidential election revealed that awkward truth in a very vivid and memorable way.


A Dana poster has appeared in the bathroom. After I make inquiries as to its origins, a beaming Fr Ryan reveals that it was indeed he who put it there. Fr Brennan is not impressed. Neither is Fr O’ Neill who now claims he cannot take a bath with Dana looking at him.

Later that day a Gay Mitchell poster appears in the common room. A proud Fr Brennan also starts handing out Gay Mitchell flyers while we are all watching Home and Away. No one is too annoyed, because in fairness we are all of the opinion that Home and Away has lost much of its sparkle since Pippa mark 2 left.

Fr Ryan makes certain that Fr Brennan sees him scrunching up his flyer. Then he leaves the room in a huff.


An ebullient Fr Ryan tells us at breakfast that he had a dream in which Dana smacked José Manuel Barroso with the Constitution. Fr Brennan sneers at him.

That night we all watch the presidential debate on TV3. Dana is up and waving her copy of the Constitution. “She is so impressive,” sighs Fr Ryan.

“I bet that’s not even the Constitution,” says Fr Brennan. “I bet it’s a book that just accidentally stuck to her hand and now she can’t get if off, but she’s way too embarrassed to admit it.”

Fr Ryan says nothing. Fr Brennan smirks. “It’s a very small book too. Maybe it’s the Collected Wit and Wisdom of Dana.”

I switch over to Masterchef in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere. And I spray some Glade to lessen the aromatic effects of Fr O’ Neill.


There is a heated debate at the breakfast table over which candidate has the most authentic background. Fr Ryan is full of praise for Dana’s “homely virtues” and her “mammyish quality.” Fr Brennan is scornful. He talks about Gay Mitchell’s upbringing as a “genuine Dub” from “humble beginnings”.

“I suppose he ate coddle and drank Guinness, and dragged himself up by his boot straps despite insurmountable odds….” Fr Ryan then does a mocking “gang sign” and says “Word, yeah, you know it, he is so street.” Then he leaves.

Fr Brennan looks annoyed, but he consoles himself with the fact that at least Fr Ryan read the election pamphlet which he wrote.

Fr O’ Neill offers an opinion, but we can’t hear him clearly because I have him eating breakfast in the hall.


Every time Fr Brennan mentions Gay Mitchell Fr Ryan hums Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and clicks his fingers. Fr Brennan’s rather juvenile response is to print up a Dana poster with the slogan “All kinds of everything remind me of poo.”

Meanwhile, due to the fragrant aroma, I have moved Fr O’ Neill to the basement with Fr [name deleted] who is definitely not there because of [deleted].


Things come to a head when I discover Fr Ryan and Fr Brennan wrestling in the garden (and not in the friendly, playful way which Fr Deegan and Fr Walsh seem to enjoy so much).

It appears that matters reached breaking point when Fr Ryan blacked out some of Gay Mitchell’s teeth on the poster in the common room. Fr Brennan then responded by giving the Dana poster a speech bubble with the words “I’m a yankee doodle dandy.”

I send both of them to their rooms. After a suitably lengthy cooling off period I have some stern words for them. I give them an ultimatum which involves taking away their privilege of watching both the X Factor and Sunday mass on RTE at the weekends. This proves most effective.

Later in the evening we all unite behind the common purpose of laughing at David Norris.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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