Miriam Lord’s week: Elections have seen more launches than a space programme

The most eye-catching pledge so far: Labour’s plan for a dog-poo DNA bank

Eamon Ryan: Green candidate gave his occupation as ‘former Government minister’

Eamon Ryan: Green candidate gave his occupation as ‘former Government minister’


How many launches can a campaign have? Never enough, it seems. Keeps them off the streets.

All the main parties, minor parties and independents were launching with abandon all week. The national campaign has to be plugged, the local campaigns have to be launched nationally, then locally. The manifestos have to be launched. Local and European. Then individual European candidates need to be launched. And local candidates launched individually, locally.

And the bye-election launches. Them too.

At this rate, how will Enda Kenny ever fulfil that promise to speak to every person in every county in Ireland by polling day?

The Labour party has still to launch its manifesto. They are launching Emer Costello tomorrow in Dublin. (The poor woman has been launched more times than the space shuttle at this stage.) But the manifesto for the European Parliament isn’t out until next week.

Never mind. Labour’s big selling point on the doorsteps seems to be Martin Schulz. Who?

Well. You see, if you vote for Labour, their MEPs will be able to vote for Martin Schulz to be in charge of all of Europe and he has Labour’s and Ireland’s best interests at heart and so a vote for a Labour candidate is a vote for Martin.

And we won’t mention the water. Or stuff.

Local manifestos are being produced and launched locally, from what we can gather. The draft manifesto for Dublin, which we have seen, has one rather magnificent pledge.

Labour will consider proposals for a dog poo DNA bank to combat repeat offenders.

Swear to God. Absolutely true.

And proper order too, say all of us responsible dog owners. But will they be testing the dogs or the owners?

Dogs love lamp-posts. When they look up, do they think: “That’s some smile Brian Hayes has on him in his election posters.”

When the Dáil returned from the Easter lay-off on Wednesday, we were relieved to see that the junior minister had given Gerry Adams back his teeth. Apparently Brian borrowed them for his photo-shoot so he could dazzle voters with his gnashers from lamp post height, at night.

Indeed, there seemed nothing amiss with the Sinn Féin leader when he went through the motions at Leaders’ Questions just after 5pm on Wednesday. There was shock in Leinster House when, just a few hours later, news came through of his arrest in Northern Ireland.

The Antrim Road detention of Adams unsettled the unflappable Sinn Féin a little this week, with Mary Lou McDonald sounding uncharacteristically out of sorts doing many of her interviews on this unfolding story.

Speaking of unflappability, the serene Cllr Eoin Ó Broin never lost his composure under sustained questioning from Vincent Browne on Thursday night.

Sinn Féin representatives beat their political rivals hands down when it comes to dealing with interviewers. They are slick and well schooled and rarely wrong-footed. As demonstrated eventually by Ó Broin when repeatedly posed a difficult, straight, question: “I’ll answer the question in the way I feel is most appropriate...”

And that was that.

Meanwhile, Eamon Ryan, who is contesting the European elections in Dublin, has put an interesting occupation down after his name. He is styling himself as “Former Government Minister.” Which is what he was, once.

Now though, Eamon is leader of the Greens here and works for an enviromental NGO.

The Returning Officer may not have been fully convinced by Eamon’s job description, but he’s managed to get away with it on the official literature. Not so his former Green colleague and former senator, Dan Boyle.

Dan, who is contesting the local elections, tweeted, “I’ve had similar difficulty My preference “public representative” that I’ve been most of my life, wasn’t thought acceptable.”

Somebody should tell these politicians – there is no such thing as a job for life.

Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in Fianna Fáil circles

“Think Different” goes the slogan on the irony-free zone that is Aengus O’Rourke’s poster for the Longford/ Westmeath byelection. Clearly, thinking differently wasn’t a factor for Fianna Fáil headquarters when making sure Aengus, the latest model to roll off the Lenihan political dynasty production line, was given a clear run to the nomination.

Their directive that the candidate must be from the Athlone local electoral area sparked anger among party members in the constituency, particularly those from Longford. However, Fianna Fáil’s all-powerful constituency committee took the dispassionate view that Aengus, who is the youngest son of former minister Mary O’Rourke (née Lenihan), was the party’s best chance to win the byelection caused by the death of Fine Gael’s Nicky McFadden.

While her sister, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden, is favourite to take the seat, O’Rourke, who runs a printing business in Athlone, will be looking long-term to the general election. And in his mother Mary, he has a formidable campaigner. Oh, and before you dash off an indignant missive, we know that the slogan is suspect in the grammar department.

But Aengus O’Rourke is following/borrowing a famous precedent set by tech giant Apple with their famous “Think Different” advertising campaign.

Incandescent councillors create Flame and take it to the High Court

There was an interesting lunchtime offer on the menu in the Member’s Bar on Wednesday. Soup, Sangwiches and a Summons. Big Phil succumbed. Went down well too, by all accounts. Mattie McGrath provided the service.

The Independent TD for Tipperary South is involved in a High Court action taken by a group of councillors to stop the local elections taking place on May 23rd. The incandescent councillors are part of a group called FLAME (Former Local Authorities Members Éire). They say the Government illegally abolished town councils because this can only be done by referendum.

They lodged papers in the High Court on Monday and presented summonses on Wednesday to three names defendants: the Chief State’s Solicitor, the Attorney General and the Minister for the Environment. It was Mattie’s job to find Big Phil and hand over the envelope.

“With the elections going on, I didn’t know where he might be. But, as luck would have it, I heard he was heading for the bar and went in for a look.”
Right enough, there was the Minister for the Environment, having a bowl of soup and a sanger with a colleague. Was he at a table or up at the bar?

“He was at a table, which was great. It’s easier talking to him sitting down when I’m standing up, ” says Mattie.

He held out the “big brown envelope” with the summons to the High Court and Hogan accepted it. Big Phil wasn’t in the least bit put out.

McGrath is not too sure what happens next.

“We’re hoping now to get an early date for the hearing down at the High Court.” Is this the first time a summons has been served on a government minister in the Dáil bar? We’re not sure, but it’s definitely not the first time one of them has accepted a large brown envelope in there . . .”

It’s the end of Foreign Affairs for Cooney

A large crowd gathered in Iveagh House on Thursday evening to bid farewell to David Cooney, who is stepping down as secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A former ambassador to Paris and to the UN, he played a major role in the talks leading to the Belfast Agreement and was Ireland’s ambassador to the United Kingdom before coming home to take the helm at Iveagh House. After the triumph of the President’s state visit to the UK, Cooney is leaving the job on a high note.

His wife Geraldine and two of his four adult children were on hand to toast his success. In the 1970s, London-born David took a job the Irish Civil Service.
He began in the Department of Agriculture, but his talent was soon recognised by Joe Small in Foreign Affairs and he joined in 1979. He was advised by a colleague to “do something about that English accent” if he ever wanted to get on in the diplomatic service. He didn’t take the advice.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore was at the bash, as was Minister of State Joe Costello and many others.

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