A fleeting taste of life without a mobility allowance

Minister for Health James Reilly, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, Roy Browne of Phoenix Care Centre and HSE manager Anne O'Connor wait in the stuck lift. photograph: brenda fitzsimons

Minister for Health James Reilly, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, Roy Browne of Phoenix Care Centre and HSE manager Anne O'Connor wait in the stuck lift. photograph: brenda fitzsimons

Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 00:00

The Minister for Health found out yesterday that bumping up a lift is far more difficult than bumping up a list.

James Reilly, who was recently accused of pulling strokes by moving projects up a healthcare centre list, got stuck in a lift during a visit to a new mental care centre in Dublin yesterday. He experienced a fleeting taste of what it must be like to have your mobility allowance suddenly withdrawn.

To add to the irony, Calamity Jams (the doors wouldn’t open) was joined by the Minister of State with responsibility for disability, Kathleen Lynch. They were incarcerated for the best part of 20 minutes while frantic efforts were made to free them.

Marooned

Also marooned were a number of advisors, three photographers and Dr Roy Browne, a consultant psychiatrist.

Typical. When the shout went up: “Is there an engineer in the house?” the place was heaving with doctors.

They may have been in the Phoenix Care Centre but this particular bird had no intention of rising. Keypads were pressed, cards were swiped and buttons were played like a cheap accordion. Nothing.

“Don’t close your eyes. Stay with us!” Kathleen joked to her senior Minister.

The muzak kicked in.

“So, Roy, do you use such calming music on the wards?” asked Jams.

Minutes later, slightly less calm, he was wedging his fingers through a tiny gap in the doors in an effort to prise them open.

“Lovely,” murmured Kathleen. “Mozart.”

Intercom

Mark Costigan, the Minister’s spokesman, tried to dial up help via the intercom, but with limited success.

“John, can you hear me John?”

“I got stuck in a lift in Brussels on Monday night,” revealed Jams.

Mark kept on dialling, ear to the speaker, an unanswered ringtone filled the rapidly heating space.

“Prrpp prrpp”, trilled Calamity Jams, to nobody in particular.

Then the music stopped.

Dr Reilly was whistling now. Eine kleine Nachtmusik. We don’t know if the consultant psychiatrist was taking notes.

“Oh, the embarrassment of it all if we discover it’s a weight issue,” chuckled Kathleen. Nobody said a thing.

Croke Park deal

Jams wondered if it was something to do with the Croke Park deal.

“Revenge,” remarked someone.

Ten minutes in. “We’re moving!” “Holy God,” exclaimed Calamity Jams.

The lift shuddered, then stopped.

“Can you hear me?” pleaded Costigan as the line went dead again. “And a bag of chips as well,” he added forlornly.

Minister Reilly sighed.

“I think we went down slightly,” observed the Labour Minister of State. But no. That was only in the polls, Kathleen.

Then the lights went out.

“Keep your hands to yourselves now!” squeaked Minister Lynch.

“Oooh, Kathleen!” joked Jams, in a saucy voice.

Sweat

People began to sweat. But jackets stayed on.

“I’ll get a page 3 out of this yet!” said one of the photographers.

They badly needed air. A crowbar was mentioned.

Finally, after more jolts and false alarms, the lights came back on and the doors were opened.

The relived party of nine piled outside to a chorus of cheers. It was like the Chilean miners all over again.

They took the stairs after that.