Miriam Lord’s Week

Euro candidates pylon pressure

Senator Rónán Mullen told his audience the public is losing trust in politics.

Senator Rónán Mullen told his audience the public is losing trust in politics.


Pylophobia: it’s everywhere these days and utterly rampant in Irish politics. Take committed pylophobe Rónán Mullen, who launched his European election campaign in Galway on Thursday night.

A large crowd attended the event in the Ardilaun Hotel – a fine establishment which sealed its place in Irish political history as the scene of Brian Cowen’s infamous Garglegate episode.

In launching his bid for Brussels, Senator Mullen told his audience Ireland needs “strong social values” to respond to the current challenging times. He said the public is losing trust in politics and wondered if, for example, we can trust politicians not to erect massive pylons against the wishes of the people. We cannot escape pylophobia at the moment.

With elections to Europe on the horizon, most candidates in the two constituencies outside Dublin are strongly expressing their opposition to the proposed placing of pylons on the pure Irish landscape.

Instead, they want them to go underground and remain there.

Flaunting themselves

Lest anybody think otherwise, pylophobes such as Senator Mullen have nothing against electricity, which must be respected at all times.

Indeed, another candidate told us recently one of her best friends is an electrician.

And wasn’t Ireland a darker place before the electricity arrived and brought such gaiety and music and colour into our lives?

It’s just the sight of those pylons out in the open for all to see that’s a problem. Flaunting themselves at the traditional lamp-posts and telegraph poles which we know and love.

It’s Pat Rabbitte’s fault.

To paraphrase Senator Jim Walsh in the Seanad this week (speaking on an entirely different matter), the onward march of the pylons is nothing more than electrical re-engineering peddled by the AC/DC ideological movement.

Above all, we really have to think of the children. Studies have shown that pylons could pose a significant risk to the health of our children. So until further studies are completed, and in the interests of the greater good, it would be unwise to let pylons loose on the landscape.

And the children.

And if holding these views makes you a pylophobe, so be it.

Homophobia, on the other hand, is a different kettle of writs.

The highlight of the week in Dáil Éireann came from Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer and his Labour colleague John Lyons, who know all about homophobia. They shared their knowledge to a near empty Dáil chamber on Thursday.

“Two people in here know what homophobia feels like, what it is like to called a queer, a fag, a gatheir opposit y” said Lyons, not suggesting for one moment he had encountered such language in Leinster House.

Buttimer spoke of being beaten up and spat at in the street because he is gay.

“This week in this Oireachtas we were told as gay people that it is a matter of ‘social re-engineering’ by the ‘gay ideological movement’,” he said, recalling words spoken earlier in the Seanad.

‘Spout hatred’

He added the support he has received from his Dáil colleagues is a demonstration of how society has moved forward. “But, in a tolerant respectful debate, I will not allow people who spout hatred and intolerance to go unchecked.”

To express a view that somebody is homophobic – whatever dictionary definition of the word you chose to pick – is a terrible thing.

During the Seanad debates on civil partnership a number of years ago, Senator Mullen and Senator Walsh, among others, had to take some colleagues to task for flinging comments about homophobia in their direction.

It’s truly awful the way that “H” word keeps coming up.

Thankfully, such name-calling may soon be a thing of the past for the victims of the gay ideological movement.

“I think that homophobia is all but gone from the country” Rónán declared, reassuringly, on radio yesterday morning.

Oh, thank God for that. Now we can all get back to talking about the menace posed to society by pylons and the like.

Perhaps though, if he has a minute, Rónán might pass on the good news to deputies Lyons and Buttimer, who appear to think otherwise.


Senators are big in Japan

A lot of disgruntled muttering in the vicinity of the Seanad this week. Noses out of joint. Jealousy rearing its ugly head. Unhappy whispers about transparency and accountability.

Five men are the cause of all the upset.

Paddy Burke, Cathaoirleach of the Upper House, Fine Gael Senators Terry “The Scoob” Brennan and Pat O’Neill, Fianna Fáil’s Ned O’Sullivan and Labour Deputy Jack Wall.

They left for Japan at the crack of dawn on something called an “interparliamentary bilateral trip.”

It’s top drawer stuff. Not your usual jaunt, this one.

“I hear they’re going away for the full week. The best of hotels and everything. How did those guys get the nod? Nobody consulted me about it. I’d love to go to Japan,” a miffed Senator told us.

A female member of the Upper House was equally put out. “It sounds to me like a trip to Japan for the boys. There’s a lot of bitching about it.”

So was the trip presented to the rest of the Seanad members as a fait accompli?

“Presented as a fait accompli? It was never presented at all.”

We hear that the invite to the Land of the Rising Sun came from Japan’s Upper House: a sort of senate to senate friendship exercise.

So how did a member of the Dáil – Jack Wall - sneak into the travelling party?

“How do I know? We don’t know how anyone was picked. But it was probably because the Labour Senators can’t agree among themselves on anything.”

Doubtless, the Seanad will receive a comprehensive report on their return.

Their colleagues can’t wait to hear it.

Kerry aims to give Varadkar the star treatment

So there’s Leo, staring into the great beyond, pondering on the mysteries of life and what the future might hold.

It can be tedious, sitting through Leaders’ Questions while Enda waffles for Ireland. No wonder a Minister might end up staring into space.

As it turns out, Varadkar will soon be able to put the experience he’s gained during those duller moments in the Dáil chamber to good use. He has accepted an invitation from his colleague in south Kerry, Brendan Griffin, to come to the Iveragh peninsula and view the stars. As you do.

It’s not as daft as it sounds. The International Dark Sky Association recently designated almost 270 square miles of the peninsula as the first International Dark Sky Place in Ireland.

Varadkar, Prince of Darkness, has a nice ring to it.

As Minister for Tourism, Leo is delighted with Iveragh’s coup and says he’ll be down with his binoculars in the near future. “Perhaps when it is less cloudy.”

Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland say they intend to market the Dark Sky Reserve as part of the Wild Atlantic Way experience.

“I look forward to the Minister’s visit to see Kerry’s unique night sky and hope his trip will help highlight this new and very exciting chapter for tourism in south Kerry,” says Griffin.

“Like the North Korean expedition to the sun, the main thing here is that the Minister makes sure he schedules his visit for night-time!”

John O’Donoghue plans further ‘delights’ for Kerry electorate

For the first time in more than 50 years, the O’Donoghue family will not have a representative on Kerry County Council.

After days of speculation, Cllr Paul O’Donoghue, brother of former Fianna Fáil minister John, confirmed yesterday he would not be seeking re-election this year. The Killorglin-based solicitor breezed through the selection convention in November with a massive vote.

Radio Kerry reported that officers from the local organisation held lengthy meetings with O’Donoghue over the last week in an effort to make him change his mind. However, the long-serving councillor says he has decided to leave local politics because of business commitments.

The big question now in Kerry is where does this leave the brother? John O’Donoghue had to resign as ceann comhairle in 2009 over an expenses controversy and he lost his Dáil seat in the Fianna Fáil cull of 2011.

But rumours “The Bull” is planning a return to the national stage have been emanating of late from The Kingdom. There is speculation that John may step in and run for his brother’s vacant seat, using it as a springboard to launch his Dáil campaign.

We hear the fervent view at FF headquarters is that John – in the words of Mr Bennett when requesting his daughter allow somebody else play the piano forte – has delighted us enough.

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