Miriam Lord’s Week: Áras garden party on moral high ground

Michael D Higgins wants his term to be a Presidency of ideas – recognising new paradigms of thought and action

Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 01:00

Short answer: Canon fails to fire over bus query James Bannon seemed to have some interesting news in the Dáil chamber on Tuesday.

The Longford TD arrived in during Leaders Questions and got stuck into a conversation with Bernard Durkan, Simon Harris and Patrick O’Donovan. He took a letter from his inside pocket and handed it to them. The three men studied it carefully and then they fell around the place laughing. Bannon looked again at the letter and he started laughing too.

Then he got up and sidled along the row until he reached Meath’s Ray Butler. He gave Ray the letter and he ended up in fits too.

Bannon, it transpires, had written a number of months ago to junior minister Ciarán Cannon with a specific query about school transport in his constituency. Ciarán – not many people know this – is the minister in charge of school buses. He didn’t get a reply. Until this week.

It was a very comprehensive reply.

“Dear James,” it read. “Thank you for your letter. Regards Ciarán.”

And that was it.

When the bus leaves the ministerial junior ranks next month, Ciarán might just be on it.

In which case Enda can write him a detailed letter. “Dear Cannon, You’re fired. Regards Enda.” Who will be first to be stretchered out of the game? Leo Varadkar and Michael Ring were outside Government Buildings on Wednesday to announce the news they are giving €200,000 to Mountain Rescue Ireland to buy new vehicles and equipment.

They had ambulances and volunteers in full kit on hand to enhance the photo opportunity. For a rare moment, the two fell silent, quietly contemplating a stretcher. “That’s for the reshuffle,” remarked Leo.

“Oh, there’ll be a lot of us stretchered out!” whooped Ringo. Not that the optimistic Minister of State for Tourism and Sport was referring to himself. When the reshuffle was mentioned, Michael bravely volunteered for duty.

“I’ll be very honest and open with ya . . . that’s a matter for the Taoiseach but I’m available to serve” he boomed with unbridled fervour.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual, which meant officiating at the opening of the Longford Clondara Cycling Way along the Royal Canal yesterday before returning to Mayo to “welcome” General Humbert and his forces as they marched by torchlight on Ballina. Ringo greeted the general after he led his army down Bothar na Sop to the military barracks.

Then they went to Walsh Street and jointly unveiled a plaque to Thomas Walsh, who was hanged by the British as they left the town in 1798.

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