Miriam Lord: Down with this particular sort of swing!
Dark mutterings of ‘dirty tricks’ as Maria Bailey’s night out hogged the headlines
Maria Bailey took a slide off a swing at the Dean Hotel and ended up on a legal roundabout. Photograph: Ellen Rose O’Riordan
Down with this sort of swing!
Full marks to the Indo’s Shane Phelan for his story about TD Maria Bailey and the night she took a slide off a swing and ended up on a legal roundabout causing politicians to trade see-saw remarks about whether or not she should have exercised her fundamental right to sue.
We can show you photographs of the swings in question. Stout ropes at the side and thick short planks for seats.
It must be pointed out that the full details of the alleged incident involving deputy Bailey and the swing upstairs in the Dean Hotel are not known and Opposition politicians who have been critical of her decision to file a personal injury claim have been very careful to point this out. We do not know the ins and outs of this swing saga.
Well, we do, to a certain extent. The swing went in and it went out and it went in and it went out and it went . . . Oops-o-jaysus!
We won’t know everything until the case is heard in court.
Book fast, via the usual outlets, as soon as a date is confirmed. We were thinking of buying tickets for Nile Rogers in St Anne’s Park next weekend but we might hold off now.
Swing Out Sister
As the swing story gathered pace, members of the Government from the Taoiseach down swung into action when asked to comment on Swing Out Sister – the Fine Gael remix.
The Minister for Justice was asked by RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke for his response after the story was raised in the Seanad by Independent Senator Michael McDowell and later commented upon by Opposition leaders.
Charlie Flanagan noted the various contributions.
“What I want to say, however, is that I am sure what has been leaked to the media, what has been leaked to Senator McDowell, is not the full story here.”
As swinging Maria’s night out grabbed the headlines in sparkling contrast to the usual diet of Brexit, broadband, housing and health, there were dark mutterings of “dirty tricks” from Government sources around Leinster House as they wondered how news of Bailey’s legal action just happened to slip out in time for the local and European elections.
A letter to publicans
After many hours of filibustering from the Rural Independents Group and a lengthy last stand on the final day by Micheal Healy-Rae, Shane Ross’s controversial drink-driving legislation was passed by the Dáil last July.
The result was 75 votes in favour and eight votes against. There were no abstentions, although several TDs from Fianna Fáil went missing. The party, despite expressing reservations about the measures, supported the government. Transport spokesman Robert Troy was among those who voted for the legislation.
On the day, he echoed the views of TDs who condemned the delaying tactics of Healy-Rae and his colleagues.
“We had a difference of opinion on one element of this Bill. I put my case as to why I felt the Minister’s proposals were disproportionate, but we voted on it and moved on,” Troy told the Dáil, putting on the record that he did not condone the filibustering by the rural independents.
He also criticised Ross for the delay in pushing through the Bill. Had he been “deadly serious about road safety, he would have prioritised this Bill over the Judicial Appointments Bill and we could have had it debated and enacted now”.
This week, with crucial elections about to take place, Robert Troy revisited last year’s Road Traffic Bill with a letter to publicans around the country informing them Fianna Fáil did not support the legislation while failing to mention that they still voted for it.
Lack of support
“Dear Publican, You are well aware of the changes introduced through recent amendments to the Road Traffic Act, in particular the change for drivers recorded with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 50-80mg,” he writes, outlining the revised sanctions for drivers which had “a huge impact on the business of many publicans, in particular across rural Ireland.”
Troy tells them “We in Fianna Fáil hold the view that these changes were completely disproportionate to the offence.”
Robert’s next line is written in bold and underlined. “My purpose in writing to you is to highlight the fact that Fianna Fáil did not support this change.”
He explains the party tabled an amendment seeking to retain the penalty points/fine sanction for the lower reading.
The next sentence is also in bold type: “However this proposal was voted down in Dáil Éireann by a combination of Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Labour and some Independents.”
As opposed to the Road Traffic Bill, which was not voted down by Fianna Fáil.
Still enjoying his cake and eating it, Troy concludes, “There has been much comment about these recent changes and some are of the view that all parties supported this proposal, which is not the case.”
This is true. Eight rural TDs voted against it. Michael Healy-Rea, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Collins, Mattie McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, Clare Daly, Michael Lowry and Mick Wallace.
Not one of them from Fianna Fáil.
Swings and roundabouts
Jerry Buttimer, the leader of the Seanad, wisely decided not to address Senator McDowell’s amusing comments on “the issue of the swing” as the matter is before the courts.
“It’s the swing vote issue I’m concerned about,” says McDowell, who is eyeing a Dáil return.
“The swing vote didn’t benefit you on a couple of occasions. It did on others,” says Butsy.
“Roll on Independents Day!” cries Gerard Craughwell on behalf of his Independent colleague as the Senators start throwing around quips about swings and roundabouts.
Then the official Dáil record takes a decidedly odd turn.
Jerry Buttimer: I hear that Senator McDowell swings either way in terms of one ----- [Interruptions].
Kevin Humphreys: But he’s not stoned.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Not stoned.
Buttimer: Many hope Senator McDowell’s prevarication ends soon. The Senator is swinging one way or the other, depending on who he meets. I really hope that he can.
Craughwell: Down with that sort of thing now.”
What on earth were they on about?
In terms of swinging both ways, Jerry Buttimer was referring to Michael McDowell’s attempts to make up his mind on whether or not to run again for the Dáil. The comments about him being “stoned” stemmed from an earlier remark during an exchange about decriminalising cannabis.
To end on a light note, I note that marriage equality between homosexual people and decriminalisation of cannabis both came in at the same time in Canada recently. One of the newspapers said that evangelists were completely shocked by this because they were worried about the phrase in the Bible that said “if a man shall lie with another man as if his wife, he shall be stoned”.
Heart of stone
Former Tory cabinet minister David Mellor resurfaced in the wake of Theresa May’s teary announcement with a refreshing hit of Oscar Wilde for the sad-eyed hypocrites lining up to laud her courage and dignity. Unlike the prime minister’s erstwhile detractors welling up for the cameras with showy compassion, he looked the gathering mawkishness firmly in the eye and sent it packing.
“Well it was, David Mellor, quite an emotional speech, especially at the very end there,” said the man from the BBC. “Did you feel a measure of sympathy for her as she announced her timetable for resignation?”
“No,” Mellor shot back. “Like someone once wrote about the death of Little Nell: ‘You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh’.”
That’s the spirit.
Charles and Camilla left Ireland with quite a haul of gifts after their visit this week. They will never want for embroidered baby blankets or handwoven throws again. Where some people might stash such lovely items in a bottom drawer, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall need an entire bottom floor for all the stuff that floods their way.
Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Kevin Boxer Moran made sure to deliver his present in person to the prince as opposed to handing it to one of his many protocol people. Boxer waylaid Charles as he was on his way out of the marquee in the National Botanic Gardens and handed him a little blue attaché case containing a blue baby blanket for his latest grandson, Archie.
The minister in charge of flood relief was never far from the prince’s side as he went for a ramble in the wildflower meadow and tootled around the trees.
This was not what officials from Iveagh House on this side of the water, and Clarence House on the other, wanted. These visits are meticulously planned and a lot of advance planning and effort goes into framing the best photo opportunities and painting the visit in the most advantageous light for both sides.
Not a bad idea as Brexit blunders on.
But from the moment the royal guest arrived to the time he left, Boxer and his junior ministerial colleague, Andrew Doyle, were in every frame. (Or at least in most of them, except for when Charles asked them to stay out of a shot he wanted with just himself and the gardener, Séamus O’Brien.) The photographers were tearing their hair out.
Afterwards, Boxer was unapologetic. He explained that the last time Prince Charles visited, he listened to what people from foreign affairs were telling him to do and stayed well back.
But this didn’t please the OPW. His department wanted its own photographs to showcase the minister showing the Prince of Wales their achievements. “They ate the head off me,” he said. “I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.”