Griffin hares round Kerry

Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 00:00

Fine Gael backbencher Brendan Griffin can shave off his moustache today now the annual November charity drive is over.

He made a good effort, but was soundly beaten in the follicle stakes by the Fianna Fáil Senator from Cavan, Diarmuid Wilson. “He’s like a Yeti,” declared one colleague.

Brendan’s freshly sprouted ‘tache featured prominently on Prime Time during the week when the programme shadowed him for a day as part of an item on politicians’ expenses. Griffin clocks up a huge amount of mileage as he goes about his constituency work in Kerry South.

Given they have a vested interest, his colleagues tuned in on Wednesday night. There was a lot of driving around the Ring of Kerry, and by mid-afternoon Griffin had arrived at his office in Killorglin. Two constituents were waiting there. John and Mary looked glum, sitting in silence as their local TD breezed in. We wondered what problems they wanted to discuss.

Some of Brendan’s colleagues back in Leinster House reckoned they were worried about the political bearpit that is Fine Gael in Kerry South. Griffin took his Dáil seat from sitting deputy Tom Sheahan, now licking his wounds in the Seanad.

After the general election, Sheahan’s camp conducted a purge of the constituency organisation. They took over the officer board and ousted all Griffin’s supporters. Those displaced senior officials included John and Mary, Prime Time’s Killorglin Two.

Brendan, meanwhile, continues to be an active member of the “five-a-side gang”. This group of young male FG TDs specialises in annoying the leadership by questioning policy and coming up with their own ideas.

Deputy Griffin has now earned his stripes with this ideologically driven outfit by producing a Bill calling for the number of TDs in the Dáil to be cut to 101 and the division of the country into 100 single-seat constituencies. The fact that, ultimately, he will have to vote against it is neither here nor there.

For the moment Fine Gael has more pressing issues to address. There is much angst being expressed over the abortion question, but the word around Leinster House is that after consciences have been well and truly publicly wrestled with, most of the queasy brigade will step into line and vote with the Government. We’re not sure if the Ronán Mullen effect will sway any of them.