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Sunday 3 January 2010

Ireland needs fewer fruitcakes and more Terry Wogans please

After much pondering, Ruth Dudley Edwards updates her fantasy wish-list of nominees to eject or import

FEELING cross with a variety of people the other day, I remembered a cathartic party game I invented some years ago. The principle is that each participant chooses whom they would most like to run out of the country and whom they would like to bring in. You put a euro in a hat for each entry, have a minute to make your case to your playmates and then a popular vote wins the jackpot.

Now that I've burrowed through my files, I find when I wrote of this seven years ago my ejectees were Vincent Browne, Niall Crowley, Eamon Dunphy, Jackie Healy-Rae, Sinn Fein, the Wolfe Tones, man-hating feminists and the entire legal profession. Few changes need to be made there, although Niall and Eamon could be let off since they don't really matter much these days. However, in 2010 it's clear that root-and-branch reform is necessary, so there are quite a few additional candidates for expulsion.

In politics, it's the Aherns: Dermot, for stamping on free speech with his wretched blasphemy law, and Bertie, for insisting that our present economic disasters have nuttin' to do with him. He reminds me of It Was Fine When It Left Us, the title of a book about the building of the Titanic invented by Colin Bateman in Mystery Man.

Seanie FitzPatrick richly deserves to be the sacrificial victim for bankers, Phoenix takes the media slot for being consistently unfunny, and the Irish Football Association wins the sporting nomination, for it could have made us the heroes of European football had it had the wit to shrug stoically and laugh about Thierry Henry's poor sportsmanship.

After much pondering over the good and bad guys in the Irish Catholic Church, the Papal Nuncio is my nominee for scapegoat. Among younger religious institutions, the Church of the Climate-Change Warriors is growing fast: many of its preachers remind me of how the dogmatic and intolerant clergy of my youth were simultaneously incredulous and enraged when confronted with impertinent dissenters. During a recent RTE programme, John Gibbons of www.climatechange.ie was beside himself at Henry Kelly's and my mild but sceptical questions about climate change being man-made. He needs a long holiday abroad. Somewhere cold.

Then there's Joe Coleman, who added to our international reputation as religious fruitcakes by persuading 30,000 eejits to turn up at Knock in search of an apparition. In a spirit of charity and inclusiveness I had intended this year to allow SF to stay on the grounds that it is now a pathetic irrelevancy, but its double-dyed hypocrisy over child abuse merits mass expulsion. SF has been yelling for everyone who protected paedophiles to be investigated and prosecuted without fear or favour, but now regards Gerry Adams allowing a brother whom he believed to be a rapist to work for years with children in his West Belfast fiefdom as "a private family matter".

There are plenty of exportables in the Kingdom of Kerry, including Paidi O Se, who continues to hail as a hero and patriot Charlie Haughey, a scoundrel who corrupted and betrayed party and country, anyone in Listowel shunning Danny Foley's victim and Michael Healy-Rae, who will soon inherit from his father Jackie the title of 'Tull McAdoo of the Year'. Come to think of it, everyone who votes for any Healy-Rae, Martin Ferris or the Bull O'Donoghue deserves to be run out of the country.

The imports in 2002 included Roy Keane (accompanied by a nun with a swear box), Bob Geldof, press-ganged to occupy the important position of Bullshit Repeller, and Sean O'Callaghan, who worked unpaid for the State as an IRA informer and is exiled by ex-colleagues with murderous intent. All stay on the list.

Additional nominees this year are Terry Wogan, who should be transported around Ireland like the bones of Saint Therese in the hope that his talent, humour, modesty and sheer decency might rub off on the populace. Jason McCue, the lawyer who won a case on behalf of victims of the Omagh bombers, should be next, along with the families who successfully challenged the political, legal, police and paramilitary establishments.

To repopulate Kerry, the best suggestion might be to clone great men like Con Houlihan and Brendan Kennelly, but that involves too great a revision of the rules.

The jackpot, by the way, should go to a charity for abused children. Just make sure it's not controlled by SF.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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