By Ray O’Hanlon
The phone rings in Tony Blair’s office. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is on the line. The phone is picked up by Blair’s right hand man, Sir Humphrey Blathertrap.
"Prime Minister, it’s the Irish prime minister on the line. Are you busy? Can you take it?"
"Oh, um, very well, Humphrey. . . . Hello, Bertie, how are things in Dublin? Raining again?"
"Eh, no, Tony, but it’s sure lookin’ dark. Listen, about de Drumcree situation, I was tinkin’ . . . "
"Spare yourself the thought, Bertie. I’m sure you are in absolute control of the situation and you can be sure that her majesty’s government will be right behind you when the sh . . . muck hits the barricades."
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"Em, you as in us, Tony? I thought you were the sovereign power up der. Wadda we got to do with keepin’ the peace between the Catlicks and those Orange bas . . . bas, brethren?"
"Right, spot on, of course, Bertie. Only joking, we’re in charge, of course, although some of her majesty’s loyal subjects seem to have a problem with that, ha ha, but anyway what’s the problem?"
"Well, Tony, it’s like dis, the word we’re hearing on the ground is dat the RUC and your army are going to roll over for the Orange bas . . . , eh, men, and dat dey will be allowed march right down the Garvaghy to dat pub they’ve been keeping an eye for de past year."
"Not a pub, Bertie. They only drink tea, remember. God knows what they would be like if they were fueled by alcohol. But rest assured, we have absolutely no intention of allowing them to trample all over the rights of local residents. They will not be allowed walk on the flowers or vegetable plots when push comes to them sticking their boots in."
"Em, Tony, am I to take it, then, dat you will be allowing the Orange gob . . . gob . . . members to walk down the Garvaghy?"
"Well, Bertie, down, up, depends how you look at it. There might not be a lot we can do about it. They are threatening to turn up in their millions and, as you know, the RUC could be easily overstretched in early July, given that most of the force’s members will be off marching with their own lodges, which leaves only about half a dozen Catholic officers in the force to man the fort at Drumcree."
"Em, Tony, wharra abou’ the bleedin’ British army? Could dey not shoot a few of the eejits? I don’t mean kill any of them, of course. After all, we don’t want another load of martyrs for dem to roar abou’ for the next tree hundred years."
"Not likely, Bertie. You know, of course, that the Paras are in Kosovo and the rest of the army is like a bunch of wimps compared to them. Let me remind you, Bertie, I’m the leader of New Labor and a new government and the British Army is adopting a new approach . . . "
"But, Tony, couldn’t you just wing a few of the fu . . . fu . . . first line of marchers. Dat would send the rest of the gobshites heading for the hills, or wherever it is dey spend the winter."
"Rest assured Bertie, there will be no shooting by the army unless there is massive provocation from the Orangemen and no shooting at all from the RUC unless there is medium provocation from the Garvaghy residents. We have it all worked out, Bertie. We have a plan. And just as we have a new Labor party, and a new government, we have a new model of an army as well."
"Yeah, we had one of doze in Ireland before, Tony, and dey went down like a fart in a suit of armor."
"I understand your concern, Bertie, and believe me, we are as deeply worried about property prices in Portadown as the rest of your party Fi, Fi, fi, fo, fum, you know. But history is going to be the judge of both of us. Either we bend to the wishes of a small number of terr . . . terr . . . residents, thus bottling up her majesty’s highways with pissed-off British subjects ad infinitum or we allow said subjects have their jolly day out with everyone living to fi . . . fi . . . negotiate another day."
"But jayzus, Tony, what abou’ the Provo cease-fire. If dem eejits are allowed march the Garvaghy, all hell will break lose."
"Northern Ireland is hell anyway, Bertie."
"I know dat, Tony, but the end of the cease-fire will be a disaster. We’ll be puttin’ up with even more claptrap from Trimble and Taylor and the rest of dem and the cross-border bodies litterin’ the gaff will not be the kind you and I had mind in mind when we started out on this bleedin’ peace process, or whatever we’re calling it now."
"Don’t worry about the Provos, Bertie. MI5 has been keeping tabs on all of them and if they so much as lift a finger they will be severely dealt with."
"No, they will have their photographs published in The Sun newspaper.
"Oh jayzus, Tony, dat’s a fate worse dan det."
"So you see, Bertie, her majesty’s government is in complete control and with the Free State’s, um, Republic’s invaluable help we can ensure that everyone in Northern Ireland has a jolly July with flags, bunting and only enough sectarian strife to keep the bigots from completely losing their marbles."
"I used to be a dab hand at marbles meeself, Tony."
"I hope you held on to them, Bertie."
"No, me brudder or some other gobshite stole them about the time I was getting me first pimples."
"Pimples are a problem for all of us, Bertie. Some of my colleagues take the view that Northern Ireland is a pimple on the rear end of the United Kingdom. But not me, of course. It’s far more significant and permanent than that. More like a wart, really.
"So would you give it back to us, Tony?"
"Not this week, Bertie, but call again next week. A week is a long time in politics, as you know."
"A bleedin’ eternity when you’re in the middle of a Charlie Haughey scandal."
"Never mind, Tony, I’ll call you next week den. Maybe we can get together for a pint and draw up another border — ri’ ’round Portadown."