Maverick Ming and a tilt at Europe

Is Flanagan about to throw his hat in the ring? We hear he’s been testing the waters

Is Ming Flanagan about to throw his hat in the ring for a seat in Europe? Photograph: PA

Is Ming Flanagan about to throw his hat in the ring for a seat in Europe? Photograph: PA

Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 01:00

Is Ming Flanagan about to throw his hat in the ring for a seat in Europe?

The Independent TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim ran in Connacht-Ulster in 1999 and got 5,000 votes. The quota was 80,000. There were strong rumours in Leinster House this week that Ming is seriously considering running again and this time he won’t be bracketed with the no-hopers in the novelty category.

We hear he has been testing the waters and carrying out research in the sprawling 15-county constituency of Midlands North-West and is close to a decision. “No, I’m definitely not ruling it out,” he said two weeks ago in an interview with Shannonside Radio. And on Thursday, he tweeted this: “Looking for a quote on 1,173,712 election leaflets. Can anyone supply a printer?”

Mischief or message? It’ll be a crowded final field for the four seats with the likes of Mairead McGuinness, Pat the Cope Gallagher, Marian Harkin and Jim Higgins hoping to return to Europe, while some of the more interesting declared starters include Senator Rónán Mullen. Should Ming take the plunge, it could be worth making a trip to the bookies and putting a few bob on him. He is a national figure with first-name recognition.

He may have damaged himself with his penalty points carry-on last year, but he could be the candidate of choice for disaffected voters. He would get the pylon vote and the water vote (not to mention the niche turf and cannabis brigade).

There will be lots of media coverage because he’s colourful. And Ming told Shannonside he will run if people don’t have a decent choice of candidates. “No one, as of yet, has put their name in the hat who would convince me, because as far as I’m concerned they are all way too pro-Europe and we’re getting a kicking by it and someone’s got to stand up for us.”

Michael Noonan was in the Big Apple this week telling the great and the good of the finance community that Ireland is back borrowing cheaply because the markets believe again, apparently.

In between interviews with Bloomberg TV and the obligatory trip to the New York Stock Exchange, Noonan rubbed shoulders with Wall Street moneybags at the “Best of Ireland” gala dinner. Guests bid tens of thousands of dollars – an impressive $191,000, in fact – at a fundraising auction for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Fine Gael Senator Eamonn Coghlan wielded the gavel on the night and the bidding was brisk. The most sought-after lot was a golf trip to Florida with US Open winner Graeme McDowell, and it had the big boys waving their bigger wallets.