Getting round the Dail


Broadcaster, author and former government press secretary, Sean Duignan said the whole idea was impossible for his feeble 1950s-educated brain to grasp but appeared to be a fiendishly cunning wheeze by a fierce cute hoor from Tipperary. The Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy described it as a special way around the mystique of Leinster House and was welcome to politicians.

The pair were talking at the launch in Temple Bar on Wednesday of E-Dail Digest, a weekly advance guide to business in the Dail and Seanad, including highlights of legislation, expected progress, ministers responsible, committees, selected ministerial replies and bills published. The man they were talking about is E-Dail Digest's editor Tim Ryan, former political writer with the Irish Press. His new service is similar to the Irish Public Affairs Digest, a Web-based parliamentary newsletter run by Fergus Fin- lay and Joe Joyce for the past year.

Launching E-Dail Digest, McCreevy got going on some of his favourite topics - politics, the media and the meaning of life. Journalists and politicians got on in a fairly civilised manner, he said, but maybe because of competition in the media and in Leinster House the atmosphere had waned a lot of late. Nowadays there was no one in the Dail bar after the order of business on a Tuesday and he believed, as former deputy John Donnellan said, that the more politicians thought of themselves and the more serious they became, the less the public thought of them. What's more, he said, when you were really going off the rails and taking yourself too seriously, you should have a board meeting with yourself.

Several politicians attended, including deputies Frances Fitzgerald, Deirdre Clune and Billy Timmins and Senator Paul Coghlan as well as Labour's Pat Magner and Michael Somers and Ann Counihan from the National Treasury Management Agency. A sample E-Dail Digest was available and if they had read through all the worthy detail to the end they would have found the following nugget - "noticed in the Dail members' carpark last week: a new vehicle bearing the reg. 00KY1913. And the owner . . . who other than the former Labour leader, Dick Spring." They and Quidnunc know 1913 was the year of the general strike, but what is Dick telling us?