Tuesday 21 November 2007
It's 6.40pm on Tuesday evening in Leinster House. In our perch in the crow's nest at the top of the building, life is moving as slowly as a sloth whose drink has been spiked with rohypnol.
Out there beyond the lawns, beyond the city, beyond Dublin Bay, beyond the shores, there's a wider world. An anti-Syrian poltician in Lebanon has been assassinated. A Russian spy, cum refusenik, is fighting for his life in London after being poisoned by thalium. The situation in Darfur is depressing. And Iraq is Iraq - we seem innured to it nowadays unless hundreds are killed.
Here, though, there are more important fish to fry. In the television in the corner of the room, a live feed from the Dail chamber is busily churning out mostly useless verbiage. TDS are debating the Book of Estimates (Government spending plans for 2007) which was published last week. Someone is talking about AA Roadwatch and the westlink. I'm pretty sure that soon Charlie O'Connor will rise to his feet and make a long speech about Tallaght. When Tip O'Neill coined the phrase 'All politics is local', I'm sure he had the Irish parliament in mind.
When Albert Reynolds finally fell on his sword as Taoiseach, he complained that it was the little things that trip you up. That shouldn't have been any surprise. Because the little things dominate political and media discourse here to an inordinate extent. We sometimes forget how small Ireland is. The population of the entire country is less than that of many medium size cities in the US. And going back to AA Roadwatch, when you hear references to 'Hanlon's Corner' and the Red Cow Roundabout on national radio, you know about how, erm, intimate a place Ireland is.
Yep, it's as dead as vaudeville, to employ the glorious Raymond Chandler line.
A very brief introduction. I am the political editor of the Irish Examiner.
A very brief brief for this blog: Running commentary on politics.
A very brief summary of the choice of day to start it: inauspicious.
It will improve though. There is, despite the general sense of indolence here, an election in six month's time. And next week's Budget will provide - as we hacks love to write - the opening volleys etc etc.