Traditionally, you’d have seen him in greatest numbers in Fianna Fail, although he’s recently migrated across to the Blues and even Labour these days. He’ll be in his traditional garb, a slightly too large suit, and a good sensible pair of Clark’s brogues that can either do a bit of canvassing or can polish up for the funeral of a county councillor.
But it’s in the eyes that you can tell him. He tries to do a bit of the “Noel Treacy/Brian Lenihan Snr. Hail fellow well met” thing when he meets you, but he hasn’t got in down yet, in that you can see his eyes looking over your shoulder for someone more advantageous to him. If the junior minister with special responsibility for transferring taxpayer funds from MRI machines to parliamentary party cronies enters the room, he’s gone.
The key to him is, like the Holy Spirit, to be everywhere at once, always looking for an opportunity. You’ll see him doing a few days canvassing for minister X or Candidate Y, always waiting for the opportunity to grab for a co-opted council seat or a special advisor job.
Curiously, he has almost no interest in politics or political issues themselves. If the party line at the moment is the rounding up and extermination of Billy Joel fans, then he’s all in favour of it, until it isn’t. The fact that his mother is in a shit nursing home, or that he’s a closet homosexual, issues that would politicise other people, don’t apply here. That’s just stuff to be hidden from the other young bucks at the cumann meeting because they can smell the blood in the water. Of course, if he finds out that one of them is gay first, he’ll out him faster than he can say three decades of the rosary in front of that bachelor holy joe senator who’s looking for someone to fill his recently resigned council seat. And if the senator needs anything else filled, in return for the seat, he’s amenable to that too.