Although they have been practising for a generation, the opposition parties have proven they are not fit for their purpose. The current Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrats coalition even taunts them for their incompetence in opposing them.
That is embarrassing, even shameful, for those whose constitutional duty is to provide a loyal opposition and a credible alternative government. Competent opponents would have made political capital from the coalition's profligacy and shamed them for crises in nearly every department but the economy.
Yet the shadow cabinet has matched nearly every ministerial mess with a corresponding faux pas, nullifying each toe-curling government blunder with an eye-watering opposition howler.
Drunken-sailor spending on mad-cap projects and an out-of-control public service is a fitting epitaph for the current coalition. Choosing their most outrageous cock-ups is a useful parlour game when chatter about the imminent downturn in property prices is too close for comfort: some say decentralisation, others plump for millions wasted millions on unworkable computer projects; nearly everyone whispers about the scary health service and rising crime.
The opposition gets very defensive when they are criticised for, say, their cringing meekness through the Bertie dig-out episode, or their laughable crassness for, hmmm, suggesting mini-brothels. They respond by saying that loyal opposition is laden with responsibilities, charging them to hold the administration to account and provide a credible alternative cabinet.
And so say all of us; with the emphasis on "credible".
Despite the fact that the senior government party will have been in power for 20 years - and their junior partners for 10 years - the coalition is still ahead in the polls four months out from the upcoming general election.
If they are so pitifully bad in opposing, and effective opposition is a fulcrum on which our liberal democracy turns, is there a credible case for replacing them?
After all, the ruthless and relentless opposition of Fianna Fail and the PDs when the most recent Fine Gael-Labour coalition was in office still evokes bitter memories in those who served in it. Fine Gael and the Labour Party ministers faced a daily blitzkrieg in the Dail from 1994 to 1997.
A robust opposition is as important to the proper working of our democracy as an effective and accountable government, so there is clearly a powerful argument to ask Fianna Fail and the PDs to return to the opposing benches in the Dail.
Yet it might be difficult to convince the electorate that a Rainbow Coalition in government would be a good idea just because they couldn't cut it in opposition.
It would be like giving a bad driver who regularly crashes an old banger a new Ferrari because it has better brakes and power steering.
No, a malfunctioning opposition which can't convince the voters of an incompetent government's unfitness to govern, is unlikely to persuade the electorate to put them into office.
It would only reinforce the current coalition's unspoken re-election slogan: "If you think we're bad, look what's coming behind us."
Sam Smyth (Irish Independent)