Pin-striped Buddha main star at annual love-in
Weekend Fine Gael conference was really the Michael Noonan Show
Although earlier in the day, in the lobby of Limerick’s South Court Hotel, we heard a Fine Gael official shout: “Can we have a band for Minister Reilly?”
It turned out they were looking for a security wristband for him rather than some more brass and wind to complement his performance.
Enda bounded on to the platform like a two-year-old, eager to spread the good news – specifically, the whereabouts of the emergency exit. We’ll be out of the EU-IMF bailout on December 15th. It’s the feast-day of St Maximinus, and now it’s going to be Raise a Glass to Baldy Day.
Unfortunately, anti-abortion protesters roaring loudly outside the hotel proved a distraction for much of the Taoiseach’s address.
They kept up the noise for the first half of his speech. Staff rushed to fully close the red drapes, but it made no difference.
“Enda, Enda, Enda! Out, Out, Out!” “Shame, Shame, Shame!” Sometimes, there was a strange howling sound, as if somebody was keening into a megaphone.
People wondered if it might be Joan Burton looking for a fight about the budget, or perhaps Lucinda, just looking for a fight.
The protesters – bless their lungs – positioned some distance from the hotel grounds kept up their chants, much to the outrage of party officials.
Then suddenly, the noise stopped. There was absolute silence. What happened? Did the police confiscate the megaphone? Was the group – standing in a public area – shunted out of earshot?
We couldn’t find out. Although an annoyed handler reported “there was loads of priests and nuns among them”.
Enda told us afterwards that he could hear the noise while he was speaking. But it wasn’t the first time this has happened to him so he wasn’t bothered.
Apart from naming the date for B-Day, the Taoiseach made another momentous announcement. “And so to the future, where we all have to live.”
Unfortunately, nobody in FG got the memo. They spent the entire two days obsessing about Fianna Fáil and its sins of the past. Micheál Martin and his tiny band of deputies will be most flattered by the attention.
After a low-key finish, Enda stood alone at the podium. Then, as the audience applauded, he beckoned somebody towards him. We assumed it would be his wife, Fionnuala, summoned for the traditional post speech peck on the cheek.
But no – it was Michael Noonan. Mercifully, there was just a handshake.
The Taoiseach didn’t stay too late in the bar. Like Cinderella, he left at midnight.
But not before a long chat with Noonan, who was swamped by admirers all evening.
Yesterday morning, just as James Reilly was being driven away from the hotel, Enda arrived in his Merc, almost hemming in Reilly’s jag.
They both got out and had a discussion in the car park – Enda wearing a fixed smile as he spoke.
Just talking about bits and bobs and B-Day . . .