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Cardinal Rules Part 10: On FF (Family First) electioneering

The (not) Primate of All Ireland calls in on his old FF friend Mattie O’Moore as the party limbers up for canvassing and kissing babies.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

THIS WEEK I was invited around to visit the constituency office of my old friend and Fianna Fáil stalwart Mattie O’Moore.

Most of you will know him as a gregarious Falstaffian figure with a ready quip. The same man who deflected all the critical brick-bats sent his way in Dáil Eireann with the skill of a great big oratorical rhino. One thundering, “I don’t accept that”, normally sends quivering opposition members diving for cover. If only the whining liberal media were as accepting of his intellectual gifts.

Family first

When I got to the office he was already having a canvassing practicing session with his adviser Mattie O’Moore junior. The walls were adorned with all the Fianna Fáil greats. But taking pride of place was a photo of his family, which included Mattie O’Moore, Mattie O’Moore junior, and 4-year-old junior Mattie O’Moore junior.

“Family first, your Eminence. That’s what I always say. Family first.”

“FF, Daddy” shouted a smiling Mattie O’Moore junior.

Mattie senior turned to me and shook my hand. “Don’t forget the eye contact, Daddy.” Mattie fixed me with a steady gaze.

“Shoulder clasp, daddy. Shoulder clasp.” He clasped my shoulder.

“Now lean in, daddy. Lean in.” He leaned in towards me. “It’s good to see you” he said warmly.

“Now pretend a relation of his has died,” hissed Mattie junior.

Dustin Hoffman

Mattie O’Moore took a moment, and with a transition that would make Dustin Hoffman green with envy, his eyes started to brim with tears. “I’m sorry about your mammy,” he said to me, his voice cracking, his grip on my hand warm, but not too sweaty. And then quick as a flash: “Can I depend on your vote?”

Before I knew what I was saying, the words were out of my mouth, “Of course, yes, absolutely, yes.”

Mattie  stood back and winked at me. “Still got it, Daddy,” said a beaming Mattie junior. I could not help but agree.

I was about to ask Mattie how he managed to stay on top of his game after three decades, when suddenly Mattie junior threw a baby doll at him. “Think fast, Daddy,” he shouted. Mattie snatched the doll out of the air with an example of the kind of fielding that an All-Ireland winning hurler could only ever dream of.

“Now kiss that baby, Daddy. Kiss that baby,” urged Mattie junior like a coach on the sidelines.

Mattie kissed the baby so warmly I thought he might devour it. “Koochy koochy koo,” he said as he squeezed its little plastic cheeks. “That’s it, Daddy,” said Mattie junior. “Now wait for it. Wait for your moment. That’s right, now look up. Look up at the mammy.”

Inflatable woman

Mattie junior had taken a large inflatable woman out from behind his desk. Mattie senior looked up at it and smiled. Mattie junior did a high pitched feminine voice, “What about your policies, minister?”

“Well, Fianna Fáil stands for equality, hope, justice…” he trailed off, and reached into his back pocket, took out a green flash card and read it,“…truth and transparency.”

“That’s it, Daddy, dodge those questions.” Mattie junior strode over to his father and started massaging his shoulders “Eye of the tiger, Daddy. Eye of the tiger.”

Overall, I was very impressed. “It’s a new dawn, your Eminence,” Mattie said. “Under the leadership of Michael Martin, Fianna Fáil is now a completely different party. That’s not to say we let our old skills go rusty. And as for those accusing us of resting on the laurels of presumptuous familial entitlement…”

Careful, Daddy, careful.

He shook his head and chuckled. “Let’s see them accuse Mattie O’Moore junior and junior Mattie O’Moore junior of that when they run a campaign purely because of a firm belief in a finely articulated political ideology.”

“Careful, Daddy. Careful,” said Mattie junior.

We had a cup of tea. As I said my goodbyes, Mattie senior was waving the baby doll at Mattie junior. “Go down there to the toy shop and buy me one a’ them brown ones. We live in a multi-cultural pluralistic society now. I want to be on top of things.”

Such vision, I thought. Such dedication. The ordinary people of Ireland are indeed blessed to be led by the extraordinary.

About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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