|Newt Gingrich (EWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's that time of year again. We can look back on another miserable year and, against all evidence to the contrary, hope for better things. Herewith, some predictions for the year to come.
JANUARY: Since no one seemed to care when New York City Fire Department big wigs referred to Irishmen as “drunks,” budget crunchers devise a novel way to save money during tough fiscal times -- get rid of the Irish!
You might recall, in the summer, a former FDNY assistant commissioner testified that one FDNY honcho said, “You’re dealing with a lot of Irishmen who are drunks and they get into bar fights and they get arrested and they get arrested again. They fight, they sock their girlfriends…they get arrested because they fought with the police when they got arrested.”
With times so tight in New York City, officials in the police, sanitation and corrections departments quietly begin pointing out that the Irish are not only “drunks,” but also bad dancers who eat weird food.
“And what’s up with that ‘Irish goodbye?’” one anonymous source will be quoted as saying.
When asked if this is a slightly racist way to save money, another source will note: “Maybe. But did you ever see those old cartoons that made the Irish look like apes? They want to put that guy in the New Jersey Hall of Fame. So, I think we’re safe.”
FEBRUARY: On Valentine’s Day, Sinead O’Connor announces that her fourth marriage is coming to an end because she is going to get married to someone else. She’s not sure who just yet.
MARCH: Recalling the surprising warmth of the reception given to Queen Elizabeth during her 2011 trip to Ireland, Pope Benedict heads to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. He is baffled when greeted by signs reading “God Save the Queen.” He is no longer baffled when additional signs demand accountability for ongoing sex abuse cases.
“You guys weren’t so angry at the Germans back during World War II,” the Pope mutters before returning to the Vatican.
APRIL: Recalling the warmth of the reception given to Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich visits Ireland.
He touts his conversion to Catholicism (even though he has been married three times), but trouble beckons when the former Baptist visits Northern Ireland.
At first Gingrich claims he is there to visit his family’s ancestral homeland, in Insihowen, Co. Donegal.
But Gingrich falls under the spell of local preachers and converts again to Presbyterianism. Gingrich also separates from his third wife.
MAY: All of the other Republican candidates for president head to Ireland with their campaign staffs and the massive infusion of tourist money lifts the nation out of its economic doldrums.
JUNE: Sinead O’Connor announces that she will marry Newt Gingrich.
JULY: Gingrich arrested during violent Loyalist July 12 march. “This is awesome,” Gingrich says. “In the U.S., all we have are those lame Occupy Wall Street guys.”
AUGUST: Stephen King had another blockbuster hit with his doorstopper novel 11/22/63. The book explored what would happen if a character went back in time and tried to prevent the assassination of the first Irish Catholic president.
In his next book, entitled 8/22/22, King will go even deeper into the Irish genre. On the 90th anniversary of the mysterious assassination of Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins, King sends a character back in time to find out exactly who killed Collins.
Collins infamously signed the treaty which freed the Republic of Ireland but left Northern Ireland in the hands of the British. This topic turns out to be too gruesome even for Stephen King.
Once the assassination is thwarted, King’s characters come to life and look to assassinate the author himself. Let’s just say the bullet wins out over the ballot.
SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER: Somehow, Gingrich hangs on to win the Republican nomination and he and Obama agree to a series of debates -- but only if they are held in Ireland. Once there, the duo decide they don’t want to return to the U.S.
“The Irish people are a lot nicer,” Obama says.
Gingrich adds: “A lot of people wanted a diaspora president. No one said it had to be the president of Ireland.”
Happy New Year!
(Contact “Sidewalks” at email@example.com or facebook.com/tomdeignan)