Miriam Lord’s week: Fine Gael suite dreams turn into nightmare
TD and Senator confronted by overwrought thespian in early hours
Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell escaped out hotel window in his pyjamas and made good his exit down fire escape. Photograph: Alan Betson
High jinks in the vicinity of St Stephen’s Green this week when two mild-mannered Fine Gael politicians found themselves confronted by an overwrought thespian in the middle of the night.
Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell was fast asleep in his hotel room in the early hours of Wednesday morning when he was awoken by a man banging furiously on the door and roaring that he was going to kill him.
He had no idea who this man was, but he was making one helluva racket as he tried to gain entry.
Kieran decided to make a run for it. He escaped out the window in his pyjamas and made good his exit down the fire escape.
Meanwhile, his colleague, Senator Colm Burke from Cork, heard the rumpus and went to investigate. He tried to calm the man – an actor, allegedly – who took grave exception to his intervention.
A struggle ensued and poor Colm got a dig for his trouble.
The gardaí arrived in the nick of time and carted off the tired and emotional guest before any further damage could be done.
As for O’Donnell and Burke, they got no sympathy whatsoever from their colleagues in Leinster House when they were told the story the following day.
They just couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of Rocky Burke punching above his weight and Kieran shivering outside in his PJs.
Gilmore move was a ‘bombshell’ in Vatican, memoir recalls
Two years ago this month, Eamon Gilmore announced the Government was closing the Irish embassy in the Vatican and that the secretary general at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, David Cooney, would double up as part-time envoy to the Holy See.
A recently published memoir by Tim Fischer, who was Australia’s Vatican ambassador at the time and previously served as his country’s deputy prime minister, recalls how the news came as a “bombshell” to the diplomatic corps at the Holy See.
“Suddenly they were confronted,” he writes, “with the most Catholic of countries, which owed much to the support of the Holy See over the decades, severely downgrading its diplomatic links and effectively pulling out of the Vatican. How could this crisis have been reached?”
He claims that the church played a “significant role” in generating support for the Northern Ireland peace process, especially in Irish-American circles. Fischer writes that, in the years since the Belfast Agreement, “the church has continued to supply the glue of peace and has been used as an additional conduit for messages and information”.
The former Vatican envoy adds: “While it will never be officially acknowledged, part of the success of this conduit lay with the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.”
And he concludes by asking: “At a time when absolute peace in Northern Ireland is still to be achieved, is it a wise step to limit the channel of extra contact that adds to the peace glue?
“Is it wise to underestimate the influence the Vatican exerts in difficult political situations such as this?”
Holy See, Unholy Me – 1,000 Days in Rome is published by ABC Books and HarperCollins, Australia.
EU’s troika man leaves Irish pals in high spirits
The troika boys folded their tent on Thursday having conducted their final review of the nation’s finances.
There were a few little bits and bobs to clear before they left. Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin hadn’t forgotten the promise István Székely – the European Commission’s man on the team – made to them when they first met.
Economist Morgan Kelly had some interesting observations to make about Székely in 2011. “Anything the Government wants to do, they go along and they talk to him. And he’s a strange guy. If he doesn’t like what they’re saying, he stands up and he shouts at them, and he wags his finger. It’s like primary school, very odd,” he said during a lecture in Kilkenny.
Whatever about the finger wagging, it seems the EU’s director of economic and financial affairs said he would give Noonan and Howlin a gift of the finest Hungarian brandy when his work here was done.
On Thursday, he kept his word and duly delivered the plum brandy. Just the one bottle, mind.
“That’s the European commission for ya. Stingy shower of . . . ” snorted an official after the handover.
Howlin took custody of the booze.
Senators look after Welfare
After all the talk of rebellious Senators threatening to vote down the Social Welfare Bill this week, the measures sailed through the Upper House in jig time with comfortable Government majorities for all votes.
It was rumoured that Fianna Fáil had imposed a three-line whip on the troops, but discipline broke down entirely with Senators missing a number of key votes.
Terry Leyden was nowhere to be seen, prompting Government whip Paul Coghlan to wonder if he had been “disappeared”.
“No, but we wouldn’t mind if he was,” came an unfraternal retort from the FF camp.
Meanwhile, Fidelma Healy Eames held forth at great length on her various amendments but wasn’t around for Wednesday evening’s vote. Instead, she dined with fellow members of the Reform Alliance at their preferred table in the members’ restaurant – the one where the PDs used to sit.
The RA were entertaining a guest who appeared to be giving them a talk.
However, deputies watching from adjoining tables were unable to identify him. According to one TD, “he was very intelligent-looking”.
Which narrows the field.
As for those Labour Senators who had been targeted by campaigners as the weak link in the Government’s voting majority, they all stepped into line when the time came.
Support for Enda from unexpected quarter
A colleague got an interesting email from America this week requesting him to add his name to an e-petition urging President Obama to support a new equality law.
“In 29 states, there are no state laws protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace. What the Senate is voting on this week is designed to fix this problem . . . The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) . . . Today’s an important day to stand up and show your support for ENDA – add your name right now.”
We hear Enda is delighted. Any support in a storm.