Miriam Lord’s Week: Would Enda break the law? You bet!
As Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty helpfully pointed out, a law passed in 1931 makes it illegal to advertise the odds of any football match in the State
We can picture it perfectly: Enda, with the usual grin, holding his charity docket up to the camera and betting on a Mayo win. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill
Minister of State Tom Hayes, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty were having a very intense discussion about the Betting Bill on Thursday when Pearse came up with a fascinating nugget of information.
It appears that the Taoiseach – not to mention various leaders of the Opposition and countless election hopefuls – has been routinely breaking the law during those high-profile visits to the bookies for PR purposes.
Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman explained that an individual got in touch recently “and furnished my office with a picture of An Taoiseach in a Paddy Power’s shop in Mayo. He was holding a sign showing the odds for the all-Ireland final between Donegal and Mayo.”
We can picture it perfectly: Enda, with the usual grin, holding his charity docket up to the camera and betting on a Mayo win.
He’s breaking the law.
Here’s Pearse: “The individual who sent me the picture asked whether I knew that under section 32 of the 1931 Betting Act that the Taoiseach was involved in illegal activity?”
What are the odds?
Because since the law was passed in 1931, it’s illegal in this jurisdiction to advertise the odds of any football match in the State.
“That took me by surprise,” he said.
“Let us delete section 32 or present an argument for why the Minister thinks the Garda should be called if Enda Kenny, or any other Taoiseach or bookmaker, decides to advertise the odds of Manchester United versus Chelsea or Donegal versus Dublin in the all-Ireland final, or on any other football match taking place in the State.”
Junior Minister Hayes assured Doherty that the offending section would be deleted in the new Bill.
Meanwhile, still on betting, Finian McGrath was very grateful on Wednesday to Fine Gael’s Brian Walsh who tipped him the wink about a horse running, across the water, in the 2.45 at Hamilton.
“Fast Finian” came in at 5-1, which gave the independent TD for Dublin North Central (who is still limping after a recent knee operation) something to smile about.
Minister tries out Molly Malone’s new spot in the city
A few days after Enda’s Cabinet reshuffle, the general secretary of the Department of Tourism and Transport sent a very urgent email to all staff. It was headed: “Three O’s, no U!”
“As the owner of a frequently misspelt surname, I’m all the more sensitive to the need to get the Minister’s name right! Staff may have seen different spellings in the media, but the correct spelling is Paschal Donohoe. ”
Tom O’Mahony’s attention to detail is commendable.
Meanwhile, Senator Sean Barrett was particularly pleased when Paschal achieved his first senior ministry.
“I would like to give a special welcome to the Minister, my former student. Members can blame me if some of his policies turn out to be wrong. I wish him every success,” Dr Barrett, an economist and university lecturer, told the Seanad.
“One of the major things I have done since I entered the House is send him letters of congratulations as he advanced in his political career. We are all proud of him.”
Dr Barrett tells us that Paschal was a star pupil – very bright and eager to learn.
And speaking of the Department of Transport, this little gem slipped through the cracks because of all of the reshuffle carry-on.
Here’s TD Clare Daly addressing the Dáil before details of the Cabinet changes were announced: “ I would like to make a few general comments before referring to the amendments. I believe this is the final time Deputy Varadkar will be present as Minister for Transport.”