Miriam Lord’s week: Political musings from the bottom up

Senators manage to keep contributions sweet – until the cracked omelettes arrive

’Our aim is to create a forum for a bottom-up debate on the issues that matter,’ Lucinda Creighton writes.

’Our aim is to create a forum for a bottom-up debate on the issues that matter,’ Lucinda Creighton writes.


Thanks to all those kind people who took the time to draw my attention to a tweet sent by Gerry Adams on Tuesday. It was a lovely way to start the new political year.

Here is the Sinn Féin leader’s dispatch: “Really sore after pilates. 1st since b4 Christmas. I ache in the places where I used 2 play.”

Bet you’re all glad you read that – an image to haunt you for the rest of the weekend.

Gerry certainly seems to be on a big health kick.

The day after his Pilates revelation, he tweeted: “Problem. I got a ton of fruit&veg in Moore St 4 juicing. But left my juicer in Bfast. Silly Billy! Just saying.”

While Gerry Adams posts his musings on Twitter, Lucinda Creighton of the Reform Alliance non-party has taken to print – she began a new column in the Irish Mail on Sunday last week.

And we see she had a column in the Irish Catholic on Thursday, giving details of The RA’s public conference in the RDS next Saturday.

The former Fine Gael junior minister pours cold water on any suggestions that this event is some sort of “monster meeting” or ardfheis-style gathering. The objective of the conference is focused on three areas: political, economic and healthcare reform.
That should keep people talking.

While the seven members of the RA are “sponsoring” the conference, “it is the audience and the panel participants who will be playing the starring roles”.

At the time of writing, Lucinda says more than 500 people have registered to attend “from a cross spectrum of people on the island of Ireland”.

The event is not “for one ideological view or religious ethos” but is a meeting to advance multiple reforms in much needed areas.

“Our aim is to create a forum for a bottom-up debate on the issues that matter,” Lucinda writes.

Bottoms up? Oh, thank God. That must mean there’ll be a bar, so.

Senators manage to keep contributions sweet – until the cracked omelettes arrive

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone concluded her speech on Wednesday about childhood obesity by noting that Lidl has stopped placing displays of sweets at cash registers.

She welcomed the supermarket’s decision as it would save parents from being pestered by their children for treats while waiting in the queue.

“The Senator should not promote Lidl here,” Fianna Fáil’s Mary White sniffily informed her.

Noone went on to suggest that the Upper House might hold a public consultation on the topic and invite the Minister in to discuss the issue.

But White was still piqued by the Senator’s Lidl remark about the removal of the sweets. “I concur with Senator Noone in respect of obesity but she should not promote one company over another.”

White, of course, is the woman who created the highly successful Lir chocolate brand, so she has sold a lot of sweeties in her time. Which might explain her reaction to Noone’s endorsement of Lidl’s decision to remove temptation from the tills.

And here’s another exchange from Wednesday’s Order of Business , when Fine Gael’s Jim D’Arcy mentioned the plan to replace the Junior Cert.

D’Arcy: “I agree with the Minister that most parents and teachers are supportive of the need to overhaul the junior cycle for the good of students, but teachers have legitimate concerns. You cannot fly an aeroplane without a pilot.

David Norris: You can with drones and there are plenty of them in Government. D’Arcy: That would be a bit of an omelette all right.

Norris: A flying omelette. Mary White: Drones are seriously destructive. D’Arcy: I look forward to the first meeting of the working body on junior cycle reform.” And to think we nearly got rid of the Seanad.

Earthlings set to discover joys of translator’s science-fiction saga

Most people around Leinster House know Vivian Uíbh Eachach in his role as the chief translator, who supervises the conversion of Acts and other documents from the stolid medium of Anglo Saxon to the sweet and kingly tongue of the Gael.

He also looks after the simultaneous interpretation service for TDs and Senators whose grasp of Irish is less than perfect.

Outside of the day job, Vivian has just published his first novel. The Korb Konspiracy is a futuristic thriller based in a prison colony in space and runs to a whopping 564 pages.

The colony has been established to process “Korb”, a fuel which it is hoped will solve the Earth’s energy problems forever.

The novel’s hero, Kevin Kane, has been transported to the colony on a charge of attempting to subvert official information regulations and restrictions, but this Citizen Kane of the future has plans to escape . . .

Vivian’s previous volumes include what is believed to be the only book ever written in the Irish language about soccer – An Bóthar chun na Róimhe (The Road to Rome), an account of the Irish team’s exploits in Italia 90.

The Korb Konspiracy is published (in English) by Create Space.

Taoiseach not miffed as he decides to treat Cathaoirleach to a muffin

Paddy Burke, Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and Enda’s buddy, was in great form on Wednesday. Full of the joys.

We discovered why later in the evening, when some Fine Gael TDs and Senators arrived in the canteen for tea after the parliamentary party meeting. (Pylons dominated again.)

Enda and Paddy were in deep conversation at a table when some of the catering staff emerged from behind the counter bearing a small muffin on which stood a lighted candle.

The Taoiseach burst into a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday as Burke was presented with the tiny cake. Then the little group of politicians, along with Enda’s ever -present entourage of advisoers, cheered and noisily applauded. Paddy (59) was mortified.

Across in the D áil, Government backbencher Patrick O’Donovan from Limerick was also on the receiving end of congratulations on the first day back to business after the Christmas break.

O’Donovan married Eileen Keary (her father is a Fine Gael councillorin Limerick ) during the holiday and he was just back from his honeymoon in Barcelona when the Dáil reconvened.

But perhaps the happiest man in Leinster House during the week was, unexpectedly, Big Phil Hogan.

The Minister for the Environment found himself at the centre of a storm on Wednesday when some details of the heavy costs involved in the setting up of Irish Water came to light. Then the CRC story blew up on Thursday morning and lucky Phil was elbowed out of the spotlight.

This would explain why he was in such good humour when holding court in the members bar on Thursday night.

We hear his smile was as broad as a Bord Gush bonus.

Enda’s big reshuffle plans get going with judicious use of three-line whip’s note

Enda has finally held a reshuffle. Not everyone is happy. It’s nothing to do with his Ministers, though. The party’s well-staffed and very busy press and research office is moving from its home in the LH 2000 annex and into the Fine Gael rooms in the main Leinster House building.

They will be billeted now alongside the party TDs and Senators, which means they won’t get a minute’s peace from the publicity-mad incumbents.

A number of FG staffers have been asked to leave their offices to accommodate the reshuffle, but some don’t want to give up their conveniently located quarters for the annex.

This week, a “notice of eviction” letter purporting to be from Paul Kehoe, the Chief Whip, was pinned to a number of office doors on the second and third floors.

It begins: ”You are hereby duly notified that you are being removed from this office and transferred to the basement area of LH2000 forthwith (beside Peter Mathews).”

The notice says OPW officials will supply crates for them to fill, while all computers should remain. “Failure to comply will result in your name being removed from the list of those up for promotion.” It was signed by a “Paul Keoghe”. The stragglers are shipping out.

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