By Ray O’Hanlon
"IF" has secured a top-secret recording of the recent meeting between the Rev. Ian Paisley and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. The two met in Ahern’s office after vandal attacks against Free Presbyterian property in County Monaghan. Here’s what went down between the big man from Ballymena and the leader of all the Irish, barring those who insist they are not.
Bertie: "Ah jaysus, ’tis yerself, take a seat. No, not dat one, der’s a water-filled balloon under the cushion. I’m expecting a visit from Mary Harney, yer wan wit de list of all those gobshites who stashed their loot in the Cayman Islands and forgot all about Fianna Fáil’s financial needs. But dat’s not your concern, how’s the crack in Ballymena?"
Big Ian: "There’s no crack in Ballymena. The Ulster people are rock solid behind me. We will never surrender . . . "
Bertie: "Ah readin’ Churchill again were we? Like a cup of tea?"
Big Ian: "Is it British?"
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Bertie: "No Chinese, or maybe Indian. Milk, sugar, valium, only jokin’, ha ha?"
Big Ian: "No milk, no sugar, pleasures of the flesh both. I like my tea the Ulster way, raw!"
Bertie, whispering to his private secretary Seamus O’Hardman, standing beside the taoiseach’s desk: "Make dat two teas, for God’s sake none of the Barry’s stuff, and some biscuits. Scrape the chocolate off. We wouldn’t want to be sinning dis early in the day."
Big Ian: "I have come to speak for my flock in Fenian-occupied Ulster."
Bertie: "Eh, dat would be Monaghan. Yeah, bit of a problem all right. Dublin’s writ doesn’t always run in dat place. Huns and Visigoths up der. But what would you like us to do for yer, eh, flock?"
Big Ian: "I want protection for my churches around the clock. I want compensation for damage, no Fenian money mind and no coins, a silent collection, from your Sterling reserves."
Bertie: "Em, well, Ian, I’m not too sure abou’ round de clock. The gardaí are a bit stretched in Monaghan. Blame it on de border, de one we didn’t draw."
Big Ian: "My flock is growing in Monaghan. In a few years we might have to move that border."
Bertie: "Worse tings have happened. Maybe we could do a swap. Monaghan for the Glens of Antrim, or maybe Fermanagh."
Big Ian: "I never do deals with the devil."
Bertie: "Funny, I could have sworn Charlie told me you two once swapped racing tips.
Big Ian: "Yew mean Hockey, that spawn of Satan. He said you were more cunning than even he."
Bertie: "I couldn’t hold a candle to dat man. He is a bit of an auld devil, but he knows de difference between real bad and just messin’. And he knows his horses. Did you win?"
Before Paisley roars, O’Hardman returns with the tea.
Bertie: "Ah Seamus, de Seventh Cavalry couldn’t have timed it better. Here’s your cup Ian. Nice an’ raw."
Big Ian, slurping from his cup: "Ulstermen will never drink coffee. Tea is the drink of empire, it’s what has made us great. That and the Ulster fry."
Bertie, also slurping, turns to O’Hardman and whispers: "Jaysus Seamus, did you drain this from yer car or wha?"
Big Ian: "I will say this, yew people down here can make decent tea. Not bad for a backward, superstitious third world hellhole."
Bertie: "Eh, Ian, times have moved on a bit since de Titanic. We’re de financial cockpit of Europe dese days, although some would say cesspit, but dat’s another story. Biscuit?
Big Ian: "You mean you would insult the people of Ulster by offering me a plain biscuit."
Bertie, eyes turning upward: "Mother of God."
Big Ian: "Papist ravings will not help yew now. I want a chocolate biscuit."
Bertie, turning to O’Hardman: "Seamus, for the love of God, go find a chocolate one. Lift one from the canteen, steal one from Bruton if you have to."
Bertie, turning back to Paisley: "Now Ian, I got a report from de gardaí and they reckon the arson and the window smashing is the work of a few gougers loaded on the jar."
Big Ian: "It’s an attack on the Protestant people, it’s ethnic cleansing."
Bertie, a slight smile on his face: "Now Ian, how could it be ethnic cleansing? British people would never describe themselves as ethnic, dat’s for the likes of us paddies."
Big Ian: "It’s an assault on decent, God-fearing Ulster folk. It would not be tolerated in a civilized Protestant nation."
Bertie: "Well, I’m not sure abou’ dat Ian. Whadda abou’ doze knackers, em, picketers of yours at Harryville?"
Big Ian: "They are doing the Lord’s work. My people are being denied the right to march on the Queen’s highways."
Bertie: "Look, I’ll check it out with the lads in Monaghan and we might be able to come up with a few bob to put things in order."
Paisley, relaxing a bit, leans over Bertie’s desk: Yew know me, I always have time for order, especially if it’s orange."
Bertie: "Ian, I have a gift for you. All in the interests of better relations wit our unionist brudders. It’s a season ticket for Croke Park."
Paisley, frowning, but keeping his cool: "And I have a present for yew, a Bible."
Bertie: "Ah Ian, ya shouldn’t have." Bertie flicks through the pages and comes to the Book of Genesis. "Lord, dis is a new one. And on the seventh day the Lord created Ulster."
Big Ian: "It’s my new revised Bible. But enough of this, I have to go and save sinners."
Bertie: "You could hang around here and do dat."
Paisley, heading for the door: "No, the Lord summons me to another place."
Bertie, whispering to O’Hardman. "Sooner rather dan later wit a bit of luck."
Paisley leaves the room, but only after dropping the season ticket in a garbage bin.
Bertie to O’Hardman: "Seamus, get the paper from de bin. I knew he wouldn’t take it. He didn’t even look at it, de eejit.
O’Hardman: "Got it boss. Boss. This isn’t a ticket for Croker, it’s a blank check."
Bertie: "Yeah, I know. I’m fierce brillo at this politics stuff and dat’s a fact."