An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Party Loyalist.

Repost: You can hear him in a quiet room, mouth hanging open, air rushing in and out as his dull eyes stare blankly into an imaginary distance. Occasionally, the waft of stale urine will emanate from him. For him, the party is everything, and the affixation or removal of party membership decides his opinion on a person. A party man can do no wrong, and a non-party man can do no right.

The truth is that the party, with its open-to-all-with-a-pulse policy, has provided a social structure to him that exists nowhere else in his life. A two line notice of a cumann meeting is carefully scrutinised a dozen times and then placed on the carefully dusted mantelpiece over the fire where his mother knows not to touch it. Everyday, he takes it down to read again, to just make sure that he has the date and time and location correct, even though all three are the same every month.

He will be at the meeting at least 45 minutes early, with a Club Orange in front of him bought with the €10 his mother gave him, and will twist in the seat every time the door opens to see if a party member is coming in.
The cumann chairman is normally the first, and greets him warmly. He struggles to remember the stories about the party on Six:One news, which he watches religiously, but the chairman is patient with him, and he always falls back on that slogan “Sure, that other crowd are clowns” that he heard someone say once at a meeting.

The meeting starts to fill up, the deputy arrives and always says hello, and asks after his mother, and then he sits quietly at the back of the meeting, and nods at whatever the deputy and the chairman say. Come any branch elections, he always follows their advice.

He prepares months in advance for the ard fheis, the mother always making sure that he is turned out smart, and the chairman always arranges a lift for him with some of the old dears who take care of him and get him his dinner, and boy, when the party leader  gets up to make his speech does he clap.

The mother worries about him, and has had a quiet word with the deputy, and when she passed on he made sure that the health board sent someone around once a week to help him with the washing and the groceries, and the meals on wheels people call in once a day with a hot dinner. Once a week, the deputy will call in for a cup of tea and a chat, and will always bring a packet of Fig Rolls, his favourite.

Come the election, the deputy keeps him off doors, but has him out dropping leaflets, which he enjoys, and he does thousands, regardless of the weather, and the deputy always makes sure he gets his tea, and makes sure that he gets a new pair of shoes after the campaign. When one of the young buckos makes a sneering remark about him, that he doesn’t quite understand, the deputy tears the head off the young fella.

After that there’s no trouble.

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