Hot on the heels of the Budget is the terrible news that our favourite health minister has become seriously ill.
The portly Stubbs has succumbed to a deadly virus and has been diagnosed with terminal foot-in-mouth disease. Doctors believe it may have lain dormant inside him for years and that the diagnosis may have come too late. Symptoms of this political virus include, the onset of an overwhelming feeling of self-importance, complete encirclement by yes men, an over-developed pomposity and a complete divorce from reality.
As the virus takes hold the sufferer will only hear what they want to hear, he will think everyone believes whatever he says and will harbour ambitions way beyond his actual abilities. Foot-in-mouth disease is extremely dangerous for the survival of political parties as we have already seen from Phil Hogan. Poor Brian Cowen passed away peacefully from all political life due to FMD syndrome taking Fianna Fail with him and is now convalescing horribly on a miserable €160pa public pension.
To contain the spread of FMD and to avoid the complete demise of the body politic, severe sufferers must be quarantined and kept miles away from microphones, cameras and journalists for a very long time. Surgery such as dismissal from the party are often considered also. Weaker party leaders pray each night that the sufferers resignation letter will miraculously appear on the desk the next day.
Sadly for Reilly, though, while treatment such as that outlined can contain the disease, there is no known cure. Sufferers who have been kept out of the limelight for decades may often spontaneously write their memoirs which, if published, could smear the party dangerously even years later. Many commentators await with relish the spectacle of Mary Harney committing her memories to print. Even Michael Martin's brass neck could not survive that kind of assault.
But Reilly's condition may have continued to be ignored or dismissed had it not been for his public utterances in the wake of the Budget. Spin doctors cringed as bouts of his FMD filled living rooms throughout the land over a 48-hour period. Now a sick embarrassment to all around him, former friends and colleagues are hastening to avoid any contact with him lest it should taint their own ambitions.
His flat refusal to resign when challenged along with insistence on free medical care for all have tongues quietly wagging in the Taoiseach's office. A sure sign that his political career is on the finishing straight came on the lunchtime news this week when both Gilmore and Howlin expressed their "absolute confidence in James Reilly".
The poor man cannot have long left now!