Miriam Lord’s Week: Enda Kenny gives Lucinda Creighton thumbs up
SF parties on at the Áras; but Mick Wallace seems to have sambaed out of town
Lucinda Creighton: As she sees it, the job of European commissioner should not be “a matter of patronage or rewarding those leaving the Oireachtas or Cabinet”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Emma O ‘Driscoll join Macnas outside the Áras in the Phoenix Park for the first of the summer garden parties. Photograph: Maxwells/Julien Behal
Lucinda is annoying Enda again. Not that the Independent TD for Dublin South East is bothered. She vowed in the Dáil on Thursday to keep up the pressure on her former boss when it comes to speaking her mind in the Dáil.
Last week, the former junior minister for European affairs spoke about the need for Ireland to select the best possible candidate for the job of European commissioner. She feels that such an important position should not be used by the Government as a convenient disposal chute for an unpopular minister.
Her remarks clearly rankled with the Taoiseach.
Creighton is forever pushing him for more Dáil speaking time for “non- aligned Independent members” and on Wednesday, she asked Enda if they would be given a chance to contribute to that day’s debate on the European Council.
“Five minutes were allocated for this purpose last week and I am wondering whether it might be possible to do the same today?”
Lucinda, it is generally accepted, is pretty good when it comes to talking matters European. Enda gave her a most sympathetic hearing.
“When I accommodated the deputy last week, she took the opportunity to go on a personal rant.”
No joy there.
Lucinda was not amused. “Just because the Taoiseach doesn’t like the contribution a member makes is no reason to silence them.
“I am more than amenable to giving Deputy Creighton time,” Enda replied, unconvincingly, as Lucinda continued to protest.
The Ceann Comhairle told her to sit down. “The deputy has no reason to be claiming discrimination,” sniffed the Taoiseach. She felt she had every reason.
The exchange was noted by Micheál Martin. “The Taoiseach’s remarks to Deputy Creighton were instructive and enlightening” he observed. “Clearly, if someone gives a personal rant – by the Taoiseach’s definition – he or she will not be allowed to speak again.”
That should have been the end of it, but not where Enda was concerned.
A short time later, he arrived in the members’ dining room. There was quite a crowd in for lunch and the members of the public who were there as guests of TDs and Senators were delighted to see the main man putting in an appearance
They will have been puzzled though by Enda’s actions. As he walked in, he saw Lucinda sitting at a table.
“You can go in there and make your speech now,” he said to her. (The Dáil sitting had adjourned for lunch.)
Then he put on a big smile, did a very expansive double thumbs up in her direction and shouted: “Freedom of speech, baby! Freedom of speech!”
That went down well.
The following day, Creighton returned to the issue.
“The Ceann Comhairle was here yesterday to witness an unfortunate, unparliamentary and scurrilous contribution by the Taoiseach when he referred to my concerns for transparency and securing Ireland’s national interests as a ‘personal rant’.”
As Lucinda sees it, the job of European commissioner should not be “a matter of patronage or rewarding those leaving the Oireachtas or Cabinet”, nor should it be used “to remove an unpopular minister” who is damaging the Government’s poll ratings.
“If wanting to send the best person to secure an influential role in the European Commission on behalf of Ireland and Europe is considered by the Taoiseach and Government as a personal rant,” she said, “then I am pleased to inform them that they will hear much more from this quarter to that end.”
That’s one political promise that won’t be broken.