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 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.


Personal rant

“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.


Lunch break

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.


SF answers the call, putting other parties to shame
It was the turn of the politicians to enjoy a day out in Áras an Uachtaráin last Saturday as part of the President’s summer programme of garden parties. 
The original guest list was confined toTDs and their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, a poor response by TDs saw the invitation extended to Senators. 
The TDs’ rather lukewarm response did not go unnoticed among many of those who bothered to turn up.
"You don’t get invited to the Park every day,” said one, who didn’t wish to be named. “Just think of all the people who would be so pleased and deligh- ted to get a chance to meet Michael D Higgins at a garden party. Really, those disrespectful TDs should be ashamed of themselves. They’re a spoilt and ungrateful lot.”
One party took the occasion very seriously. 
Sinn Féin’s representatives from North and South fielded a full representation, with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness leading the posse. Mary Lou McDonald was given an exemption so she could represent the party at the Dublin Pride march. 
“The Shinners were loving every minute of it. They had their iPhones worn out taking photos of everything. They were posing beside the Michael Collins tank in the courtyard, posing with the President and his wife, posing with the dogs and taking millions of photos of each other."
First Citizen
Fair play to Sinn Féin. They got a call from the First Citizen and they answered it, putting their colleagues from the other parties to shame. 
Then again, it might not have been patriotic pride which brought all their TDs Senators and MLAs to the Phoenix Park. Our Leinster House attendee tells us he praised a Sinn Féin colleague for his party’s excellent turnout. “He told me he hadn’t much choice as the whip had been imposed. He was under orders.”
The politicians who attended had a wonderful afternoon. There was entertainment from Synergy, the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, soprano Claudia Boyle with David Brophy on piano, and Declan O’Rourke. Master of ceremonies was RTÉ’s Audrey Carville. 
A fine array of nibbles included chicken and pinenut sandwiches, smoked salmon on tomato bread, crab meat with rose sauce in savoury cases, spinach roulade, cocktail samosas and spinach pakoras followed by spiced fruit cake, ginger bread, raspberry and mint tartlet, éclairs and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Meanwhile, there was a very large turnout yesterday at another big house in the Phoenix Park for the annual July 4th celebrations at the US ambassador’s residence. 
Family day out
There was a large attendance from most of the political parties. We don’t think Sinn Féin had the whip in operation for this party, although Aengus Ó Snodaigh was among the TDs who brought along their children for this family day out. 
Lucinda Creighton and Paul Bradford were there with their new baby Gwendolyn, while Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe and his wife Brigid were there with children Sinéad, Eoghan and baby Emma.
Missing you already, Mick
Mick Wallace is a hard fella to miss. He stands out in the crowd but there hasn’t been sight nor light of him around Leinster House over the last couple of weeks. No fleeting glimpses of pink moving through the corridors. No sign of those unruly blond locks glinting away up in the far corner of the Dáil chamber. Where could he be? We tried his phone numerous times. It kept going on to message.
We asked members of the technical group about his whereabouts. They hadn’t a clue. When we wondered if he might be abroad, some of them got very coy.
Mick has a parking spot in an underground car park used by TDs who have offices in Agriculture House next to Leinster House. “His car hasn’t been here for at least the last two weeks” a colleague told us. It wasn’t there yesterday either.
We called Catherine Murphy, who is the technical group’s whip. “Where’s Mick?” “I don’t concern myself with where people are – that’s not my function. I arrange speaking time for them, that’s all. I’m not their manager.”
Back home?
If he was abroad, it was none of her business. So was he back in the country now? Catherine heard he might be around now, but she didn’t really know. 
It’s been quite a mystery for most of the members of the technical group. “We all think he’s been in Brazil for the World Cup, but nobody can confirm it. And now we’re hearing that he might be back home.”
Football crazy Wallace swaying to the samba soccer beat in South America while the Dáil is in session? Could this be true?




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