THE SUN DID NOT SHINE in Dublin yesterday for the opening of the new Dáil.
It was a truly dismal occasion in mid-June, cold rain the order of the day.
THE OUTGOING TAOISEACH Bartholomew Ahern was elected after a vote to a third term, and most of the old Fianna Fáil faces were back in Government.
John O'Donoghue, Fianna Fáil, was elected Cathaoirleach after a vote.
Changes in Cabinet include Ministers
Brian Cowen (FF) new Tanaiste (retains Finance),
Seamus Brennan (FF) Arts, Sports and Tourism,
Eamon Ryan (Greens) Communications, Energy and Natural Resources,
John Gormley, (Greens) Environment, Heritage and Local Government,
Brian Lenihan Jr (FF) Justice, Equality and Law Reform,
Martin Cullen, (FF) Social and Family Affairs,
Noel Dempsey (FF) Transport and Marine.
Bartholomew Ahern the Taoiseach will forever be remembered as a friend of Bush and Blair, stepping in line and marching to Bush's tune.
John O'Donoghue, the new Cathaoirleach, was seen on Ireland's Day of Shame running from the Dáil to the Ministry for Justice chased by angry women seeking revenge for Iraq.
That same year, Brian Cowen, the new Tanaiste, was seen doing a similar 100 metre sprint away from an anti-war activist-with-a-microphone outside the Fianna Fáil meeting place in Killarney.
Brian Lenihan Jr, new Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, was seen standing outside the same venue on the same day refusing for 15 minutes an invitation to a mike to debate the issue of Shannon with another anti-war activist ("Brian Lenihan sent me to tell you he has only two words to say to you and the second one is 'Off'!" a messenger later told the protestor).
Martin Cullen, the new Minister for Social and Family Affairs, is remembered as the Minister who in 2004 spent 52 million euro on unreliable electronic voting machines that were put into cold storage - where they remain at a cost of nearly 1 million euro annually.
Séamus Brennan, the new Minister for the Arts, Sport and Tourism, was the Minister who told the Irish nation on the 1 o'clock news on 3 February 2003 that the 5 Pitstop Ploughshare activists who disabled a plane at Shannon airport had hospitalized a Garda. When this proved totally without foundation he did not retract or apologize, nor did he do so even when all five were unanimously found not guilty of all charges against them by a Dublin jury.
IN THE DÁIL CHAMBER, it was odd to see the Green Party members alongside Fianna Fáil and the PDs. It had the look of the holy people sitting in the abomination of desolation.
AFTER AN ENDLESS MONOTONY of routine speeches and protocol, however, there was an unholy row when Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Leader Patrick Rabbitte reminded the Greens of their erstwhile principles and were treated to a highly charged outburst by Trevor Sargent.
EARLIER, INDEPENDENT ANTONY GREGORY'S SPEECH stood out as a brilliant recording of the sickness that appears to have stricken the Irish body politic and through it the Irish Parliament. In this new Dáil, both he and the four Sinn Féin deputies will have a fight on their hands to speak at all. The departure of four Indpendents and the Greens to the Government benches leaves them isolated despite the efforts of Caoimhín Ó Caoilean to remedy the situation from the start.
ALL IN ALL A DAY WITHOUT MUCH PROMISE, but who knows what the first 100 days will produce. Only time will tell.