Mattie’s never stuck for words...even in Italian

Miriam Lord’s Week: Mattie McGrath’s upsetting episode; Bruton rocks out; Bertie’s Campbell support and Adams sits tight at vets evening

Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 15:57

News has reached us of a distressing episode involving Mattie McGrath, his suitcase and a revolving door.

It happened last Thursday week, but news only reached the gossip merchants in the members bar when Dail business resumed on Tuesday.

On the evening in question, the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, was hosting a dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel for an Italian delegation in Dublin for the visit of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

Before the event, Barrett happened to bump into Mattie, who had finished for the week in Leinster House and was about to head home to Clonmel. The Ceann Comhairle mentioned there was a spare seat at the dinner, if he fancied coming along.

No better man, sez Mattie.

So up he rolled to the Shelbourne at the appointed hour, pulling his little wheelie case behind him. He looked very continental in his overcoat and fedora with a feather in the band.

McGrath pushed his way around the revolving door. But the case got caught and Mattie was stuck. Couldn’t get in and couldn’t get out.

‘Here to ate’

Staff rushed to help. “I’m here to ate!” he cried, getting more excited and speaking even faster than usual as the rescue operation swung into action.

With trademark efficiency, the Shelbourne front of house people freed Mattie, who, at this stage, was talking nineteen to the dozen as the feather in his hat nodded in time.

What with the suitcase, stylish headgear and rapid chirping, it appears Mattie was temporarily mistaken for an Italian. Somebody proposed sending for an interpreter so the valued guest could be put at his ease.

But it all worked out in the end and a lovely evening was had by all, including the dashing independent deputy for Tipperary South, Matteo McGraziano.

Adams sits tight at evening for US army vets

Gerry Adams visited Washington and New York during his recent trip to America. He was busy tweeting snaps of this travels, including pictures of pumpkins: (“great with tripe”), Central Park and the obligatory snap of Capitol Hill.

As he was in town, Adams was invited to speak at the Irish Echo’s annual “Irish Labor” celebratory dinner. He attended with Rita O’Hare, Sinn Féin’s representative in America and a woman with impeccable republican credentials.

Irish Echo editor Ray O’Hanlon mentioned in his speech it was Veterans’ Weekend - a time when US military veterans are honoured.

Rita decided to have a laugh and attempted to make Gerry stand up and acknowledge the applause as a military “veteran” himself.

Bruton is a model Minister

By all accounts, Tuesday’s Oireachtas Fashion Show was both a runway and runaway success, raising much needed funds for Motor Neurone research.

Ministers, TDs and senators sportily took to modelling duties in the Shelbourne Hotel and clomped elegantly down the catwalk for the cameras.

The women, to be fair to them, did wonderfully well. The men hammed it up for all they were worth.

Among the gorgeous gowns – Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s diaphanous white chiffon creation and Avril Power’s blue, slashed to the thigh, evening dress come to mind – the stand out design was a luscious green silk number worn by Senator Catherine Noone.

Brooding and macho

Noone arrived into the Seanad the following day to find that her seat in the chamber had been taken away. Perhaps the authorities thought she was going to pack in politics for modelling.

The boys strode around purposefully, trying to look brooding and macho. Arthur Spring worked the country squire look while Trevor O’Clochtaigh’s Full Monty style gyrations got a great reception.

But Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton was the star of the show.

”He just got out there and rocked it” said one female politician, insisting on remaining anonymous. “Nobody was expecting it – he’s so quiet. Then he marched out and busted some moves, shaking his little tush on the catwalk like a young Rod Stewart. ”

“I’m not the better of it.”

It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch.

Campbell soups up Bertie’s reputation

The name is Sawers, John Sawers…And with that, squadrons of pigs flew in close formation over Grosvenor Square.

The head of MI6 certainly looked like a spy in the Bond mould; beautifully-tailored, hair neatly trimmed, shoes gleaming.

However, the Irish Embassy in London is not a usual haunt for the man once known by generations of spies and spy fans only as ‘C’.

(At least not by invitation.)

On Monday evening, Sawers was one of the guests at the London launch of Alastair Campbell’s ‘Irish Dairies’, in which the former Labour communications chief recounts the events leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and beyond.

Like others in the room such as former Northern Ireland secretaries Paul Murphy and Peter Hain, Sawers – a long serving Foreign Office diplomat – is a Northern Ireland veteran.

Although the author of ten books, Campbell said this was only his second book launch – the first a week before in Dublin. “I’m an anti-social sort of chap who doesn’t get out much, other than going to football matches”.

Bertie Ahern would love to see Campbell get out more often, since he continued what he started in Dublin by lauding Bertie and his role in the peace process.

Part of the reason Campbell came over here to do a launch was to do his bit to bolster Ahern’s reputation.

“All people want to say because of the economic crash is that, somehow, it’s all his fault, blah, blah, blah,” he said, adding, “I think people should remember his incredible contribution, and his absolute commitment.”

Campbell was fascinated to see how modern-day politics was put under the microscope recently when Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman went up against Russell Brand, and the comedian laid into politicians in “a master-class of communications”.

But the Belfast Agreement, he said, was delivered by politicians – even people like David Trimble.

The former Ulster Unionist leader comes out poorly in Campbell’s diaries because he “was so exasperating to deal with”.

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