Flower power takes centre stage with lilies of the Dáil

There was much consideration of the Easter lily in the Dáil yesterday

“Sinn Féin Easter Lilies swaying across the way caused great affront to FG party chairman Charlie Flanagan.”

“Sinn Féin Easter Lilies swaying across the way caused great affront to FG party chairman Charlie Flanagan.”


Consider the lilies of Sinn Féin, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin . . .

They grow abundantly at this time of the year. But hey, don’t toil, rather, they blossom on lapels, displayed in all their glory until they fall off.

Neither do they spin (although by their mere presence, they are making a statement.) Spinning is the job of the people who wear them.

There was much consideration of the Easter lily in the Dáil yesterday. The chamber was a quiet on the eve of the Meath East byelection.

Into this oasis of calm walked Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley and Michael Colreavy, fragrant of lapel as they proudly sported their paper lilies in all their green white and orange glory.

They displayed them with pride – although their two colleagues, Mary Lou McDonald and Sandra McLellan, remained a flower free zone. As, indeed, did the rest of the politicians on Dáil duty.

As ever, SF had cornered the lily market.

Then Fine Gael backbencher Frankie Feighan arrived, sporting the contents of a small herbaceous border on his jacket. Heads swivelled.

Frankie’s very large silk Easter lily rested in a nest of green foliage, its white trumpet was so big he could have sounded a bugle chorus on it.

Brian and Michael looked a little miffed.

Feighan was either on his way to or from a wedding, or he was sending a message to the boys across the floor.

No words were exchanged.

But that wasn’t the end of the battle of the flowers.

During Topical Questions, the tropical question of the Shinner’s fondness for one specimen of floral exotica pushed its head above the soil.

The Easter Lilies swaying across the way caused great affront to FG party chairman Charlie Flanagan.

“Before my colleague begins, is it in order for members, particularly Deputy Stanley, to wear emblems of the type that he is now sporting in the chamber? It’s not only himself but his colleague, Deputy Colreavy, too. Some members of this House may find the wearing of such emblems offensive,” said Charlie, requesting a report from the Ceann Comhairle on the long standing rules regarding the wearing of emblems.

And furthermore, he asked that the report be laid before the Dáil today.

“I object to the wearing of the emblem by Sinn Féin Deputies in the manner which we now see.”

Michael Noonan was fascinated by Stanley’s badge.

“Is it pinned on or gummed on?” (We suspect Frankie Feighan’s massive corsage had been attached by rivets.)

Charlie Flanagan said he didn’t wish to cast any aspersions on his constituency colleague as he was “only carrying out orders. He was sent in here with the emblem”.

His fellow Offalyman was incensed. “I am wearing green, white and gold. I’ve seen members of his party wearing emblems to which I did not object.” He must have been referring to Frankie’s accessory, which was more suited to a manhole than a buttonhole.

“I know the symbolism of the emblem worn by the Sinn Féin Deputies” muttered Charlie.

Brian Stanley jumped to his feet. “I don’t accept orders from anyone. I don’t accept orders from anyone, be it Deputy Flanagan or anyone else!”

Then maybe he could he could comply with standing orders” retorted Flanagan. “These are offensive emblems.”

Stanley couldn’t see how anyone could find “green white and gold objectionable.”

“It isn’t the colour I object to but to the intent behind the emblem” insisted Flanagan.

But he insisted that the record show his “objection to the wearing of Easter lilies or any other offensive emblems or flag-waving” from SF Deputies.

”Maybe you’re in the wrong parliament” sniffed Stanley.

“Are they gummed on or pinned on?” repeated Noonan.

As for deputy Feighan, he explained to us later that he wore his lily in remembrance of 1916. “I wore a poppy last year and took a lot of stick for that. People asked me why I didn’t wear the lily. I’m happy to do so.

Thanks to Charlie Flanagan’s intervention, Frankie’s outbreak of flower power should have a second outing in the Dáil today.

Feighan should be in the clear. By wearing a floral buttonhole, he is following in the tradition set by the late Jim Tunney of Fianna Fáil, who came to be known as “The Yellow Rose of Finglas”, thanks to his trademark sartorial flourish.

This week, Frankie is The Blossoming Bugle of Boyle.

By the way, the queen of England’s annual bouquet of Easter lilies was flown over to Buckingham Palace last night.

Not a present from Sinn Féin, but her annual gift from the people of Bermuda.