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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 4, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    The Bull bites back

    Mary Minihan

    Have you noticed former ceann comhairle John O’Donoghue is done with licking his wounds?

    He’s intervening again, for the first time since stepping down as ceann comhairle last autumn, on issues close to his heart: sport and country pursuits. These days, these also happen to be points of difference between Fianna Fail and the Greens.

    This week the Fianna Fail press office did something pro-active. It released a speech by O’Donoghue, due for delivery in the Dail well after 10pm on Tuesday night, at 5pm. It was a deadline-friendly move.

    But the content of the speech gives an indication of the state of relations between the coalition partners. O’Donoghue, himself a former minister for sport, challenged Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan’s proposals to designate key international and provincial rugby matches as free-to-air for television.

    If Ryan’s plans went ahead they would be potentially disastrous for Irish rugby, O’Donoghue said. Pretty clear.

    Then there was the evening last month (May 11th) when Conservative leader David Cameron became Britain’s prime minister and protesters tried to “storm” the Dail. But Fianna Fail backbenchers were more concerned with halting the progression of the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill, if attendance at a packed Oireachtas environment committee meeting was anything to go by.

    O’Donoghue’s carefully-worded intervention at that gathering seemed to give other disgruntled Fianna Fail backbenchers succour. He said there was concern among rural dwellers the proposed legislation was going to lead to further legislative measures that would “interfere with if not destroy” country pursuits.

    O’Donoghue said while he did not believe Minister for the Environment John Gormley wished to “sow doubt in people’s minds”, the Green Party leader also had a “duty” to reassure rural dwellers about their hobbies. Apparently emboldened, Máire Hoctor, Mattie McGrath and others quickly weighed-in behind him.

    And once again last week (May 26th), he was the most senior Fianna Failer to criticise elements of the proposed legislation to ban stag hunting with packs of dogs at the Oireachtas environment committee meeting.

    “The great Walter Scott would never have written The Lady of the Lake if this legislation had been in place and English literature would have been deprived of the stag at eve drinking its fill,” he said.

    When O’Donoghue resigned as ceann comhairle last October, he contended he had become the scapegoat for an expenses regime that had fallen into disrepute. When I highlighted his travel and accommodation expenses, along with a payment called Public Representation Allowance, for March and April this week, I hoped I wasn’t being unfair to him. It was because one of his constituency colleagues, Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae, lodged the joint second-highest amount of all deputies, claiming €10,467.68 over two months. He can claim €37,106 a year for travel and accommodation costs because he lives 330 – 360km from Leinster House, or within what’s known as band 11.

    The other TD in the constituency, Tom Sheahan of Fine Gael, claimed €10,215.68 over two months. He lives 270 – 300km from Leinster House, or within band nine.

    O’Donoghue, who lives within band 11 like Healy-Rae, claimed €8,684.34 over two months – less than some TDs living within bands one and two.

    Seems like the General Election is already underway in Kerry South.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      You could also feel sorry for the TDs who live furthest away as they make the easiest targets for looking into their expenses…

      Every single TD/Senator/Councillor is guilty until proven innocent because until the actual receipts for the costs incurred or claimed are provided and published then no one can have any faith that honest claims are being made – I see some Dublin TDs have been claiming over €2,500 for their ‘travel’ costs – yet it is impossible – it is simply not possible – that a Dublin TD can rack up that much in travel costs in one month – also bear in mind the Dáil sat 18 times over MArch and April. A DART ticket costs what €5 each way at most.

      I have got my name on the FG crank list over the issue of expenses and my regular e-mails in the issue and I must admit to feeling a little bit of satisfaction at being proven right – a bit depressed I have been proven right considering I spent so many years as a party activist thinking they were better than some others.

      Until TDs/Senators/Councillors publish the actual receipts for their claims – and the rental agreements for the offices they rent from themselves/family/friends – then not one of them if fit for public office – we need an Daily Telegrapgh expose.

      I was a party activist and have a very keen interest in politics and yet despite , I have come to the view that they are all the same – so how cynical must those people who were never interested in politics now be?

    • ruby tuesday says:

      Do Bulls bite…? or is that a load of old Bull…?

    • Octopus Caveman says:

      Er. I’m not really sure if the Bull has fully thought through his Walter Scott defence.

      What next – If not for the Holocaust, we wouldn’t have the work of Primo Levi?

    • ruby tuesday says:

      More a case of Bulls Bawls…

    • john says:

      John O’Donoghue TD – AKA – ‘Junket John’ AKA ‘Mr Zero Tolerance’

      When Green Party, Minister, Eamon Ryan put forward proposals that the big six games such as Heineken Cup fixtures involving Leinster and Munster should be aired free on our national channels such as RTE and TV3, John O’Donoghue TD was vocal in his opposition. John O’Donoghue TD was supporting the view of the IRFU that such free to view games could have a significant impact on the revenue of the IRFU, however, like O’Donoghue the IRFU has enjoyed the benefits of vast sums of Irish Tax Payers money, and the majority of us think it’s time we got something in return.

      Still John O’Donoghue AKA ‘Mr Zero Tolerance’ AKA ‘Junket John’, has never been afraid to speak out both sides of his mouth. During O’Donoghue’s five years as Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, O’Donoghue enjoyed dozens of games free to view as he was invited to red carpet treatment by the IRFU to both Landsdowne Road and Croke Park. The Kerry wind bag certainly knows how to spend tax payer’s money, but would deny the same tax payers an opportunity to watch the IRFU games free on national television.

      O’Donoghue was forced to resign last year as Ceann Comhairle (Chairperson) of the Dail when it was uncovered that he had spent vast fortunes of tax payer’s money paying for himself and his wife to stay in top hotels and charge everything to the tax payer including Gondola rides and fancy hats. O’Donoghue did not only enjoy games free to view at home, indeed, he has also travelled abroad for big matches, on one occasion requesting the Government jet at a cost of 30,000 Euro to the tax payer.

      One could say that Junket John’s squandering of tax payers money is laughable, however, this squandering and waste took place at a time when Irish children were being abused as they had no access to child care professionals due to lack of funding, it was at a time when prisoners with the potential to rehabilitate were denied that rehabilitation due to lack of funding, a time when our elderly are being abused in places of ‘care’ due to lack of funding, the list is endless and the furnace of hell will burn well into the night.

      When I tried to contact John O’Donoghue today I was told that he was gone to a match.

      By theirishobserver.blogspot.com

    • Ed says:

      It is interesting that the turf war between O’Donoghue and Healy-Rae is never fought in such a way as to undermine the latter’s unswerving support for the government
      Nor, as far as I am aware, has there been any investigation of the rumour that Healy Rae has availed of his entitlement to free rail travel while also availing of his full travel expense entitlements as a TD. Not that there would be anything ‘wrong’ with anyone availing of double ‘entitlements’, though some voters might consider it reprehensible. Even if (or because) they live in Kerry South.

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