Miriam Lord: A year of eloquence, hot air and cheese in the Oireachtas
Cheesiest Moment award: Enda Kenny’s personal note in his letter to David Cameron on the royal birth.
The Fine Gael palace guard getting tips from Comdt Keith Murphy last April on how to quell a mutiny in the ranks. From left, Senator Martin Conway, and TDs Billy Timmins, David Stanton, and Liam Twomey.
One of the year’s most memorable photos, Minister for Health James Reilly stuck in the lift at Grangegorman. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
A late entry in the picture category is Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton, in a publicity shot for her starring role in a production of Calamity Jane.
Enda’s speech on the Magdalene women was a stand-out moment. The emotion of the occasion got to everyone in the Dáil chamber that special night in February.
“I, as Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, the Government and our citizens, deeply regret and apologise unreservedly to all those women for the hurt that was done to them, and for any stigma they suffered, as a result of the time they spent in a Magdalene laundry,” he said.
It was a stunning speech, but problems remain over the compensation he promised.
So our speech of the year goes to a man who doesn’t have speechwriters to polish his prose.
Senator Ned O’Sullivan from Listowel joined his two female FF colleagues in the Seanad to vote in favour of the abortion Bill, breaking ranks with the rest of his male colleagues.
His speech on July 15th was courageous, honest and considered. He concluded: “If I had as clear a conscience about the rest of my life as I have about supporting this Bill, then I would be in very good terms with myself when I go to meet my maker.’’
Floodgates award for most annoying and overused phrase goes to “Best International Practice.” It just about shades “evidence based”.
Pure waffle. Expect to hear it again and again during the Seanad abolition campaign. Or when a particularly vicious cut needs to be justified.
Have a drink each time you hear it. The rest of the year will be but a happy blur and it’ll be Christmas before you know it.
Monument to madness
The Dáil Sweetie Shop closed down due to lack of business.
The tiny glass structure took three years to build at a cost of over €1.3 million and was opened with great fanfare five years ago by Bertie Ahern and John O’Donoghue.
Tucked out of bounds to the public inside the Kildare Street gate, it specialised in newspapers, snacks and knick-knacks, although the chocolate bars had to be kept in a special fridge because they were melting under all the glass.
A top seller was a wheelie bin pencil sharpener with the Oireachtas logo on it.
It’s unoccupied now, a monument to the madness of the Bertie years. They should put a few tomato plants in it – it’d be the swankiest greenhouse in town.
Have your cake
Eamon Gilmore had Georgia on his mind in March.
He was down to attend the St Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, but he decided to drop the city from his tour list because he would have had to attend the Hibernian Society’s male-only annual dinner.
“Count me out – I’m not doing it,” the Tánaiste said. “I don’t believe in segregation either on a gender basis or on any other basis.”
But Alan Kelly, Labour Minister of State at the Department of Transport, quietly attended the Friendly Sons of St Patrick’s bash in New York the night before.
He wasn’t defying his leader because the Labour Party doesn’t have rules about representatives attending men-only functions.
The Have Your Cake and Eat It Award goes to Labour.
Alan the Great
The Eighth Wonder of the World was discovered in May.
It’s Alan Shatter.
We hear National Geographic are coming to Leinster House to do a feature on him in his natural habitat.
This news came as no surprise to the Minister for Justice, who has always known he is a wonder. However, when he got into trouble over his disgraceful disclosure of confidential (if harmless) Garda information about Mick Wallace, his Fine Gael and Labour colleagues piled in to say how wondrous he truly is.
Alan is the most reforming minister in “certainly over the last 100 years” marvelled Enda, who would know, seeing as he’s been a member of Dáil Éireann for what seems like over 100 years. The Taoiseach spent nearly four minutes reading out a list of his Minister’s achievements to the Dáil during the confidence motion against his Minister. This was almost as long as Shatter spent repeating them.