27 December 2005

Ahernia — where the trains run on time and Father Ted is banned


By Fergus Finlay

HERE’S a little taste of things to come in 2006. Don’t let it spoil your holidays — it might never happen!


The Minister for Justice announces that, in pursuit of the mission given to him by Article 40 of the Constitution to "ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State," he will be keeping a careful eye on things from now on. As an earnest of his intentions, he decides that Network 2 is to be refused permission to show repeats of Father Ted because it undermines public morality, especially Father Jack's use of the word 'feck'.


Nieman Marcus, long famed as the world's most expensive shop, announces that it is to open in Henry Street in Dublin. "We heard that these SSIAs were going to start maturing this year," said a spokesperson, "and we decided we had to have a bit of that action." When he was asked why Nieman Marcus was locating in Henry Street, rather than the more traditional luxury shopping area of Grafton Street, the spokesman said: "You've got to be kidding. Who could afford the rents in Grafton Street?"


When the Finance Bill is published, there is considerable surprise at some of its provisions. There is to be a new grandchild allowance of 100 per month per grandchild, payable to each grandparent. Although it is to come into effect on the first Tuesday of June, the minister for finance denies that this is an attempt to court the elderly vote, or that a general election is imminent. A lobby group named Great-Grandparents for Justice, of whom the youngest member is 83, is immediately launched.


The Minister for Justice bans the RTÉ programme Oireachtas Report in pursuit of his Article 40 campaign to preserve democracy and the authority of the State. An official statement says the frequent TV shots of Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte shouting at the Taoiseach were more than just bad manners, they were undermining the best government that Ireland had ever seen, and were therefore an affront to democracy.


It is announced that the Government's major transport initiative of 2005, Transport 21, is to be renamed Transport 22, as most of the projects will take longer than estimated. The Minister for Transport promises that none of the major rail initiatives planned will take longer than 40 years to complete.


There is consternation when it is revealed that four Sinn Féin TDs are British spies, and have all been trained at a secret safe house in Cheltenham. Martin Ferris holds a tearful press conference at which he denounces Great Britain for "manipulating and perverting" many of the fine young minds of the republican movement. Meanwhile, an inquiry begins into what is termed a "colossal waste of money" by British intelligence. "Training spies is one thing," said a Tory spokesperson, "but what in the name of God could you spy on in Dáil Éireann?"


With rumours that the Minister for Justice is keeping a watching brief, RTÉ introduces its new summer series, You're a Star, Minister. Each week presenter Eddie Hobbs outlines the incredible talents and outstanding achievements of members of the Cabinet. In the first episode Environment Minister Dick Roche talks about himself and tries some ballroom dancing on a section of the M50 that has been closed for the occasion, while thousands of motorists can be seen shouting approval in the distance. There is, apparently, no risk that the rest of the series will be banned.


With the Government's popularity in serious decline, rumours abound of a 'heave' within Fianna Fáil. This is immediately denied, and as a consequence editorials appear in all the major newspapers demanding government stability in the national interest. The nation relaxes when it is discovered that the palace coup is being led by former junior minister Ivor Callely.

Callely give a radio interview in which he announces that he stands for the new, young, thrusting Fianna Fáil, and that he will not be intimidated into silence. He is never heard of again.


Europe holds on to the Ryder Cup amid scenes of extraordinary jubilation at the K Club. Padraig Harrington is the star of the show, and clinches the cup with an eagle putt on the last hole. A spokesperson for the Taoiseach lets it be known that Bertie has always been a secret golfer, taught by his father in the grounds of Clonliffe College. Abbotstown is turned into a golf academy for young people from Drumcondra and other marginal (sorry, disadvantaged) constituencies.


As the money from the SSIA accounts begins to pile up in the economy, the Government announces that there is to be an additional incentive for people who invest their returns wisely. In future, everyone who invests their SSIAs in approved Government bonds is to be given a three-series BMW in time for Christmas. The Minister for Finance denies again that a general election is imminent. Meanwhile, after several episodes of The Premiership on Network 2, the Minister for Justice announces that under Article 40, Eamonn Dunphy is to be banned from appearing on the programme. Asked if Mr Dunphy had offended against either public order or public morality, the minister replied, "Neither. He's just offensive generally."


The Minister for Finance announces that in an effort to ensure the December budget won't be seen as a spending spree, he is announcing a series of major spending decisions in November. Garages are to be built in every house and a new city, which will be named after the country's greatest living Taoiseach from Dublin's north inner city, is to be built where the Phoenix Park used to be. "We no longer tolerate all these sensitivities about trees and reindeer and such," the minister for finance states. "People need houses, and Ahernia will be the solution." The minister for transport announces a major new scheme, known as Transport 23, to link Ahernia to the rest of Dublin by 2088 through a tunnel.


In a shock announcement, the Minister for Justice says he is banning Christmas.

"All these office parties, where people are getting drunk and telling their bosses what they think of them are an offence against public order and morality," the minister tells a selected audience of religious leaders. Later in the month, in a final dramatic twist, he announces there is one more thing that must be banned if the authority of the State is not to be turned into a laughing stock. In pursuit of his duty under Article 40, he bans himself.

Happy New Year!

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