The Secret Minister – Operation Smokescreen


I don’t know if it was the being assaulted by pensioners live on national TV outside Leinster House or the encouraging Young Fine Gael to attack the US Embassy in response to spying allegations but I think An Taoiseach may be questioning my abilities as a government minister. The chief whip had called to inform me of yet another emergency cabinet meeting. I was sure I was off to the great cabinet reshuffle in the sky. Dearbhla had tried to reassure me by telling me everything would be alright (admittedly I had turned up at her apartment at 3am screaming ‘tell me everything will be alright!’) but I couldn’t shake this feeling.

The cabinet met under the cover of darkness in Leinster House. An Taoiseach is foaming at the mouth when he enters the room and for a moment I thought he had seen the CCTV footage of me sitting in his chair and smelling his coat but no it was much, much worse. “We’ve had more crises of late than a prossie has had STDs,” An Taoiseach began, “how in the name of God has Sinn Fein got hold of more fecking Anglo tapes? Fucking chatty bankers. Had they nothing better to be doing. If you want to talk so much ring one of those bloody sex lines”. We were all a bit puzzled by the sexual allusions, but his message was clear nonetheless: crises, bad. STDs, bad. Anglo tapes, bad.

“Christ almighty, this is what the last days before the fall of the Roman empire must have felt like,” An Taoiseach said, sinking into his chair. He didn’t seem to notice the changes I had made to his ass groove when I sat on it which was a relief. The only other time I had seen An Taoiseach this lost was when Ming Flanagan spiked his tea with hallucinogens. In his time of need I would step up to offer the reassuring words, proving my worth to him: “we’re not like Rome An Taoiseach,” I began, “if we’re staying on an Italian theme; we’re more like the leaning tower of Piza. Sure, people stop to point and take annoying pictures, but no one has seen sense and ripped us down.”

An Taoiseach didn’t find the merit in my comforting words and instead suggested my arse would be a great location for the tower of Piza should it ever need to be relocated. It didn’t help that Vradakar sniggered, he loves the mind games. Now, more than ever, I needed to redeem myself. In politics, they say never let a crisis go to waste and so I wouldn’t. I would prevent the new Anglo tapes from ever reaching the public domain (not because the Government are evil and can’t be trusted, but because you don’t need the stress of an inquiry). The Anglo tapes are a headache the Nation doesn’t need; a banking inquiry would just open up old wounds and maybe bring up all those Fine Gael quotes about how we would be different. You, the public, don’t need to be bothered with that nonsense.

As the Dáil sat in debate pretending to take Ming Flanagan and his cannabis bill seriously (as if I’d allow my constituents to legally inject themselves with cannabis, ridiculous!), I sneaked out safe in the knowledge all Sinn Fein TDs were preoccupied with waiting their turn to spout waffle.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Sinn Fein buildings on Parnell square, but on the outside it basically looks like a rubbish novelty gift shop. On the inside, however, it has a setup befitting a paramilitary organisation with which the party is not affiliated with. How to break into the fortress unnoticed and enter Gerry Adams office to retrieve the tapes?

I took a deep breath and walked right up to the entrance. “Go wan ahead there Gerry,” the armed security guards said to me as I passed by them in my military fatigues, balaclava and fake beard jutting out below (sorry, but I must plug the costume shop on North Frederick Street at this point, they really helped me out). By dressing as casual Friday, Gerry Adams I had fooled the Sinn Fein heavies. I searched the office for the tapes, there in the corner next to a picture of Martin McGuinness was a box full of them. I heard ructions out the front and made a quick getaway out the back door.

I made it back to Leinster House sans costume just in time to whisper several drug related puns in the ear of Ming Flanagan as I passed by him in the corridor. My favourite being ‘high time you fecked off’. I thought about throwing Gerry Adams a filthy look, but I have yet to make eye contact with him despite our extensive time in the Dáil. Ming’s bill, of course, was defeated, but upon entering An Taoiseach’s office, he seemed as dejected as earlier. My good news would soon change that. “Where were you during the vote ye bollocks?” An Taoiseach inquired. “Get your sound system ready Taoiseach,” I demanded, “are you ready to listen to the newly freed Anglo tapes?” His eyes lit up, it was beautiful to watch. I pressed play and imagined what life would be like as Tanaiste, I fully expected those imaginings to be sound tracked by foul mouthed bankers further boasting about bankrupting the country but instead was greeted by an altogether different sound.

I’m sure a great many people enjoy the music of The Dubliners but now was not the perfect conditions for appreciating them. In my hurry to escape the clutches of the Sinn Fein heavies I had grabbed up The Dubliners: Greatest Republican Songs. I had been foolish enough to think Adams would have left the tapes in his office. An Taoiseach’s expression was one of anger. Republican song after republican song, but no sweary bankers. An Taoiseach was lost for words and I dare not speak. Just then the chief whip rushed in to compound my misery: “I’ve got some CCTV footage you really need to see An Taoiseach”.