Miriam Lord: A year of eloquence, hot air and cheese in the Oireachtas
Alan also revealed he is “Minister for Time”, when he sent out a press release reminding people to put their clocks back for summer.
He is a medical phenomenon. Dire mutterings from Mattie McGrath about him getting into a spot of bother at a Garda checkpoint came to nothing, but not before we heard that Shatter’s mild form of asthma makes him unable to blow into a breathalyser bag.
And he is an author. A long-forgotten work titled Laura has been republished after a toe-curling sex scene from the novel appeared in the newspapers.
He even won praise from Sinn Féin. On the last day of the Seanad, Peadar O’Clochartaigh told him: “We do not necessarily always agree on policy issues, but I commend the Minister for his work rate, as he has been one of the busiest Ministers and I hope you have a good break over the summer.”
The OPW has widened the door-frames to allow Shatter get his head in and out of Leinster House.
The “This Man Has Form Award” goes to David Norris, who has been shooting his mouth off in the Seanad for more years than we care to remember.
He rightly caused consternation when he accused Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty of “talking through her fanny”. But the outburst from Norris wasn’t untypical.
Here he is on the banks: “They are unelected and it’s undemocratic and it’s time we told them to ‘F’ off . . .” said a typically understated Senator Norris in the Seanad.
“The Cathaoirleach will note that I have used one letter,” he pointed out.
“I ask him to withdraw it. Everybody knows what he means,” said the chair. To which Senator Norris replied: “Yes. I meant they should go forth and multiply, to put it biblically.”
Michelle Obama looked to have the Cheesiest Moment award in the bag after her improbable declaration of kinship with the Irish during her visit here in June.
Addressing an audience of schoolchildren in the Gaiety Theatre, she began by saying “It’s good to be home.”
“It’s really hard to know which is worse, whether it’s the outpourings of the Obamas themselves or the sycophantic falling over them by sections of the media and the political establishment,” fulminated Clare Daly in the Dáil after the visit, disgusted by the “slobbering” nature of the welcome given to the American first lady and her daughters.
But the Taoiseach, a noted cheese connoisseur, carries off the top prize with his note this week to British prime minister David Cameron on the birth of the royal baby.
“On behalf of the Government of Ireland, and particularly on my own behalf, I want to express warmest congratulations to you and through you to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the wonderful occasion of the birth of their son, heir and third in line to the throne.
“I am sure it is a day of joy and pride for [the] whole of the United Kingdom,” he writes.
It’s odd – Enda congratulating the prime minister, but that’s protocol for you.
The cheese comes at the end, in a little handwritten, sweetly republican addendum: “Their most important title now is Mum and Dad! Enda.”
Only he could get away with that.
Best sides captured
Two photographs stand out. The first is proof that Enda has become one of the most ruthless taoisigh ever. He is the iron-fist in the velvet glove – the nicest fella you could hope to meet, unless you get on the wrong side of him in the party. Lest anybody think he isn’t serious, we bring you again that chilling image of his elite Fine Gael palace guard the men who would take a bundy for their leader: Enda’s enforcers.