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.”
Leo sat back and waited for Clare to tear a few strips off him as a parting gesture.
“I’ll be sorry,” she said, “because while I may not agree with any of his policies, the way in which he conducts himself, and the competence of the department and his handling of it, has been impressive.
“From that point of view, I will be sorry to see him lose the brief.”
The pigs flying around the chamber dome fell to the ground in shock.
“This is like praise from Caesar,” stammered Leo.
“No doubt, the Minister will move onwards to higher and better things.”
“I thank Deputy Daly for her kind and gracious words regarding my approach as Minister.
“I know that we don’t see eye to eye on much, but I acknowledge that you are sincere in your approach and motivation on this, and other transport issues,” purred Leo.
We were so overcome we had to flee the press gallery.
Abbey director’s hair-raising arts cut to address growing homeless problem
One day Fiach MacConghail woke up and realised he was getting on a bit.
The director of the Abbey Theatre and Taoiseach’s nominee to the Seanad said to himself: “I’m 50, feck it! How do I manage my mid-life crisis?”
So, he’s decided to “indulge in my narcissism” by doing “the Samson trick” and getting his hair cut.
This is not any old hair. It is Arty Hair. It is Statement Hair. It is Bohemian Back and Sides Hair. It takes a position.
When MacConghail arrived in Leinster House three years ago, the lads immediately knew who he was: “D’Abbey fella with the hair.”
Fiach declared on Wednesday that he is to have it shorn off for a worthy cause. He has set up a page on mycharity.ie and is asking people to sponsor him at “€10 a snip”.
The money raised – and it’s building up nicely – will go to the Peter McVerry Trust.
The Senator had set himself a target of €1,000 when he offered up his barnet for business but, as of lunchtime yesterday, the fund was already at €920.
“Where I work is right in the middle of a socially deprived area, so I see the effects of homelessness daily. While I’ve never met Peter McVerry, I think he’s an extraordinary man who is doing great work to alleviate the homeless crisis,” says Fiach, adding he has learned a lot about this growing problem through the work of the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment.
The Senator will submit himself to the scissors on September 15th, a few days before the Seanad reconvenes after the summer recess.
“I’ll be walking the corridors shaking a bucket, so that people will recognise me. You’ll be able to see my ears for the first time in over a century.”
His barber, Edward Kane on Grafton Street, is in training for this kindest of cuts.
If you want to see the last of those Luvvie Locks, sponsor Fiach for a few bob. You can even leave a comment on the web page. “An investment in removing occasional confusion” is our favourite, from a polite donor who is obviously far too nice to write “you look like an aul wan sometimes with that long hair”.
No Joan at farewell bash for Gilmore advisers
Eamon Gilmore’s team of advisers lost their jobs as soon as Joan Burton took over as Tánaiste, and they held farewell drinks in Doheny and Nesbitt’s pub on Tuesday.
There was a philosophical air as the group contemplated their exit from the corridors of power – that’s politics.
The Taoiseach and some Ministers dropped by for a quick drink to wish them well. Why not? They had worked together for three years.
But it didn’t go unnoticed that the new Labour leader was a no-show. Burton probably had an unavoidable engagement or something. What was noticed earlier was how Joan bypassed party members who openly supported Alex White’s campaign when it came to handing out junior ministries.
On Wednesday night Fine Gael and Labour held their end-of-term get-togethers. They both ended up in McGrattans. “It was like Upstairs Downstairs: Fine Gael were above, and we were on the ground floor,” a Labour TD tells us. “But they had to pass us to get to the toilets, which was a bit annoying.”
Nobody’s happy as Norah White leaves Dáil restaurant and new dishes arrive
On Wednesday, the Taoiseach paid tribute to Norah White, one of the many unsung heroes of the Oireachtas backroom staff who keep the place ticking over.
“Norah has been the longest-ever administrator of the Dáil restaurant, having occupied the post for the past 48 years,” said Enda.
“It is said that an army marches on its belly and Norah has supervised the nourishment of many members for a great number of years.
“On behalf of the Ceann Comhairle and Members, I wish her every good fortune, success and good health in her well-deserved and merited retirement.”
Opposition leaders joined in the good wishes.
“It’s some achievement to keep Deputies and Senators fed for 48 years. Good food, particularly early in the morning, can lend itself to a good mood in the Chamber,” said Micheál Martin.
“You’d better start eating some decent food so,” chortled Jerry Buttimer, Micheál’s Cork South Central rival.
This was a bit unfair, as the Fianna Fáil leader is a healthy eater and very partial to fruit, nuts and berries.
He takes a dim view of the morning egg-rasher-sausage-n-puddin’ brigade.
“Food tastes have changed over the years . . . it’s often said that our tribe is known as the guys who like their dinner in the middle of the day,” he continued.
Emmet Stagg would be one of them. The Labour chief whip took the opportunity to issue a cri de coeur about the menu.
‘Fresh as a daisy’
“Norah White has been here for longer than I have, which is quite some time,” he began.
“I believe she’s been in the Oireachtas for about as long as the Taoiseach and she looks as fresh as a daisy and in good health.
“In wishing her every success, I bemoan the fact that she has overseen the introduction of a new type of cuisine in the self-service restaurant.
“I much prefer bacon and cabbage to the stuff covered with sauce. Perhaps that message will get through.”
The Ceann Comhairle chimed in: “Deputy Stagg’s contribution is made on behalf of the older members.”
They’re worse than children.