Residents of ‘Council Estate’ gather at Áras for a grand day out and a long chat with Michael D
A group takes a nice little jaunt to the park for talks with the President
Sprightly former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave (93) stepped from his car and – old pro that he is – turned to face the grateful photographers with a cheery wave. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Where is this council estate anyway? The President invited it to Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday.That’s a lot of chairs and biscuits. Good old Michael D. Always doing something different. But this was no ordinary council estate. This was “The” council estate, or “The Council of State” as some call it.
A large media contingent gathered outside the Áras to witness the arrival of the residents, who had been invited to discuss the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill and whether or not the President should refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.
This must have come as a surprise. Most groups are invited to a garden party. They talk about nice things they have achieved; the President cries “fintistic” and they all have their photograph taken.
Journalists were not allowed to hear what the President and the important people from the council estate had to say to one another about the abortion Bill. But it was of vital constitutional importance.
Two of the people from the estate – Ruairí McKiernan and Prof Gearóid O’Tuathaigh – had cancelled their speaking slots at the MacGill Summer School to attend.
So where is this housing scheme exactly?
There are loads of council estates around the country, but the President’s one is obviously quite small as there was no marquee in evidence around the back.
Then a man from the Áras gave us list of invitees – 21 tenants in all and no children. It was puzzling. Bertie Ahern was one of the first to arrive, but to the best of our knowledge, he lives in a purchase house in Drumcondra. Although now that his income stream from the international speaking has dried up, the former taoiseach may have downsized to something more manageable from the housing list.
They arrived in dribs and drabs. Going on the cut of the guests, it must be said this was the poshest council estate we’ve ever come across. However, it soon became clear they were from an area which is a hopeless legal and academic ghetto, with some rougher political elements thrown in.
Well done Michael D for reaching out. If nothing else, it was a nice little jaunt to the Phoenix Park for them.
Michael D and Sabina have the place lovely. There’s a vibrant new painting hanging in the entrance hall and the ceiling looks freshly painted. Hydrangea flowers from the garden winked up pinkly from their bowls along the Francini Corridor.
The President was due to meet the council estate in the diningroom, around a big square table. Before their discussions, there was a photocall in the main reception room.
The group represented your typical mix of ordinary lawyers, academics, former presidents and former taoisigh with a Tánaiste and Taoiseach thrown in.
A sprightly Liam Cosgrave (93) stepped from his car and – old pro that he is – turned to face the grateful photographers with a cheery wave.