A day after Brian Lenihan admitted to overlooking the key section of the Anglo Irish Bank report which he ought to have read backwards, Fianna Fáil formally introduced their city candidates for the local election.
Just a few hours after I’d met all eight city candidates at the Belfry Hotel, including Tom Murphy, FF’s sole Council incumbent, the news got even worse for the senior Government party.
The latest Irish Times/TNS/MRBI poll made for devastating reading for Brian Cowen as, for the first time in the history of such polling, Fianna Fáil fell behind a Labour Party resurgent under Eamon Gilmore.
Speaking to colleagues on Friday morning last, a similar train of thought ran through most of the chat centering around the June elections: who would want to be a Fianna Fáil candidate right now?
The task now facing the party is unprecedented; going all the way back to its foundation under Eamon De Valera at Dublin’s La Scala Theatre on March 23rd, 1926.
Ironically, Fianna Fáil’s ascension as the ‘natural’ party of government was made partly possible by the Great Depression, gaining 15 Dáil seats to defeat Cumann na nGaedhael in the 1932 General Election.
A decade before the ’32 election, the then Minister for Trade and Commerce, Ernest Blythe, cut the old age pension by a shilling, which represented a 10 per cent drop.
The criticism that the Antrim native thereafter received for that move was, in the words of political scribe Deaglán de Breadún, “undying”.
It was a decision which would help propel the anti-Treaty wing of old Sinn Féin towards power, which, as Fianna Fáil, it has held for 58 of the past 77 years.
After successive general elections in which it was difficult for the public to differentiate between the main political parties, a schism is now beginning to emerge.
Next time around, the centre will not be as attractive a slot to occupy, meaning our next choice of government will be arguably more defined than at any point since Dev succeeded WT Cosgrave.
As the workers of Ireland cling to jobs and battle for pension rights while Bank of Ireland boss Brian Goggin bemoans his €900,000 drop in earnings to a ‘measly’ €2million, public anger is growing. And rightly so.
And when the public is angry, the party in government, be it just or otherwise, invariably suffers.
The global economic slowdown was mentioned at last Thursday’s launch at the Belfry, and no-one can deny that there are incompetent oafs in Wall Street just as there are on this side of the pond.
But for all their bluffing and blundering, the buffoons running our banks cannot be held solely responsible for the mess we find ourselves in.
After all, be you Brian Goggin or Mr J Bloggs, we are all citizens of a State that entrusts the well-being of the nation to those whom we elect.
The local picture is, of course, slightly different for Fianna Fáil, since it holds just the one seat on the outgoing City Council.
And in all fairness, Tom Murphy cannot ship too much blame when it comes to Council policies that have either yet to get moving or remain in a file at Martiana Gate.
Personality traditionally tends to reign supreme when it comes to local elections, but being a pleasant sort or a great lad to have a pint with is no longer going to cut it with voters this time around.
Local government remains fundamentally weak, its direct powers beyond those of setting car parking fares and wheelie bin charges barely better than slight.
The glut of local government funding is determined by central government, which has been led by Fianna Fáil for nearly all of our modern history.
Anyone brave enough to stand before the people at any time deserves at the very least a handshake and good wish and I extended that to all eight Fianna Fáil candidates last Thursday.
They, like all those seeking our votes, will be afforded the chance to sell their policies in these pages between now and June. It’s likely to be the hardest sell of their lives.