Miriam Lord: Brendan Ogle eager to get back in the leftie limelight

With Paul Murphy starting his own party, Ogle thinks it’s a good time to unite socialists

Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett and Bríd Smith of Solidarity/People Before Profit. Murphy has left the Socialist Party to form his own far-left party which he will launch on Monday. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Here's a heartwarming little announcement aimed at Paul Murphy – who left the Socialist Party on Thursday – which arrived too late for this week's Social & Personal column.

“Mammy & Daddy Trotskyist Party have been getting closer for some time now. And today the happy news we’ve all been waiting for with so much excitement: they are expecting a new Trotskyist baby next Monday!”

Aaah. That’s lovely.

Brendan Ogle, the loved-up union leader who made this announcement on his Facebook page, followed it up on Thursday with an image of Trotsky's face encircled by little pink love-hearts and the slogan: "Leon Trotsky Thinks You're Hotsky."


Message for Brendan: Paul Murphy Thinks You’re Flirty.

Unite's boss in Ireland was referring to Murphy's decision to part company with the Socialist Party, reducing its Dáil strength from three to two deputies (Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry). But he is staying under the socialist umbrella of the Solidarity-People Before Profit Dáil group, albeit no longer a member of Solidarity but as leader of a new far-left political group which he is launching in Dublin on Monday.

Nothing confusing there.

Is there a part for Ogle? The limelight-loving activist announced last year that he was setting up a political party. In a television interview in March 2018 he said it would be launched that September. He had a mission statement and everything.

"Everyone will follow the Right2Change policy platform," he said. "We are ruling out a coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael and looking for a separation of church and State." There was a need for a party "to represent a broad, progressive, human rights base".

September came and went. Nothing happened.

A full year on and a new socialist group has arrived, but courtesy of Paul Murphy. He revealed he has been struggling within the Struggle for the last 12 months, leading to this week’s amicable split from his fellow socialists, who are too anti-social for him as they are against increasing co-operation with other left-leaning parties and movements involved in the Struggle.

But back to Brendan Ogle, who calls himself "Camilo Ogle" on his Facebook page, perhaps in homage to Camilo Cienfuegos (his name means "a hundred fires") who is revered in Cuba as a hero of the Revolution. On Thursday, the Dundalk-based campaigner was again musing about a new party, this time on Twitter.

“What the left needs is a broad progressive front 2 come together, not 1 Trotskyist party with about 100 active members down here to split into 2 parties. The right wing media will describe this as left chaos,” he wrote, with the hashtag #yetanotherowngoal.

Ogle has also been mentioned as a possible left-wing candidate in the Fingal byelection caused by Clare Daly's departure to the European Parliament earlier this year. Might he unite with Murphy?

Irish politics on the left has more progressive fronts now than the weather map.

Retired politicos make the cut at Oireachtas golf bash

The Oireachtas golf society held its annual president's prize competition as the summer recess came to a close this year. Members battled it out on a wet, windy and wild Powerscourt course in Wicklow at the end of August.

Former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, the society's president, decided to keep out of the rain and didn't play. The big prize went to former Fianna Fáil junior minister from Wexford, Hugh Byrne, while another long-retired member took the second prize.

Retired, fully pensioned politicians have the life of Riley.

The runner-up, former tánaiste and Labour party leader Dick Spring, was recognised on the night with life membership. He was presented with a commemorative lump of mantelpiece fodder by the new EU trade commissioner, Phil Hogan. Big Phil, who paid lavish tribute to Spring, is already an honorary life member of the society.

There were tributes and get-well wishes to Brian Cowen, the former taoiseach, who is recovering from a serious illness.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Oireachtas golf society (where women politicians, past and present, are something of a rarity) and the president's prize will take place on the Ballyconneely course in Connemara.

Singin’ Finian gives fans a free ‘indie’ song

Junior Minister Finian McGrath is delighted with his new constituency leaflet.

“Four pages, glossy, with a song I wrote myself.”

It doesn't look much different from the leaflets currently winging their way from Dáil and constituency offices all around the country as the general election creeps ever closer. However, Finian has printed a QR code on the back page of his humdrum missive which, when accessed by mobile phone, brings up a YouTube link to the minister singing The Independent Blues.

“While Finian demonstrates a steely political determination,” goes the accompanying guff, “he also has a lighthearted side and enjoys political satire and singing.”

Don’t we all.

Boxer Moran and Mary Lou McDonald also get a mention, and the final verse features the Taoiseach

He says he wrote the song last year and asks Dublin Bay North constituents, who are the lucky victims, sorry, recipients of his leaflet, to donate a few bob to Br Kevin Crowley’s Capuchin Day Centre if they like his tune.

McGrath tells us he has already sent a cheque to Br Kevin following a tsunami-like trickle of donations.

"Woke up this morning baby, got the Independent blues
You know I woke up this morning baby, got the Independent blues
I went down to the Ceann Comhairle I got nothing to lose.
Hey now, Ceann Comhairle, don't you get me wrong
I got Shane Ross in the corner and he's comin' on strong
He don't want no more judges but Charlie won't come along."

Boxer Moran and Mary Lou McDonald also get a mention, and the final verse features the Taoiseach.

"Hey now, Leo, can't you help me out?
There's a leaker in the cabinet and I dunno what to do
They're looking at me and they're blamin Eoghan Murphy too."

Poor Finian won’t be troubling the charts anytime soon.

Everyone wants a piece of the budget pie – but is it already eaten?

A mini-industry has sprung up in the vicinity of Leinster House since the Dáil returned two weeks ago and the Seanad followed suit a week later.

The emails have been pinging into deputies’ and senators’ inboxes at a ferocious rate as representative bodies for businesses, charities and professions start the yearly ritual of the pre-budget presentations. This is where organisations hold information meetings with politicians and tell them what changes in the budget would help them and their members.

Buswell's Hotel across the road from the Kildare Street gates was packed with persuaders bringing their message to sympathetic TDs and Senators who, of course, vowed to have a word in the right ears when they returned to Leinster House. Meetings also took place in the Merrion Hotel and the Alexander Hotel, as groups from various walks of life including the motor industry, farming and the health sector made their pitches.

What the inundated TDs know, but don't want to say, is that this year's budget is more or less done and dusted

Politicians like to be seen at these events. They talk and take names and armloads of literature. And the people representing the different trade bodies and voluntary organisations – many of them acting in a paid capacity – take loads of photographs for their websites and magazines.

But what the inundated TDs probably know, but don't want to say, is that this year's budget is more or less done and dusted. Privately, they will tell you that the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and his Fianna Fáil counterpart and confidence-and-supply shadow, have already agreed the details between them.

Leo’s close call with stardom on the mean streets of New York

It couldn't match the dizzy heights of celebrity-hound Leo's meeting two years ago in Texas with Arnie Schwarzenegger, but the Taoiseach was nonetheless delighted to rub shoulders with US talk-show star Jimmy Fallon in New York on Wednesday morning.

Leo showed Fallon a photo on his phone of Fallon's pub in Dublin 8. As you do

Leo was leading an Irish delegation visiting the NBC headquarters for a meeting with TV executives on the Irish film production industry when he bumped into the comedian, who immediately recognised the Taoiseach and invited him to tour the set.

Fallon, who has Irish roots, told Varadkar he would love to bring his show to Dublin and the Taoiseach said he would do all he could to assist him. Then he showed him a photo on his phone of Fallon’s pub in Dublin 8. As you do. The comedian said he might have a pint there if he gets his wish to broadcast from here.

It must have been a monumental task for Leo’s handlers to extract him from the NBC building when the time came to leave. Why? Because Robert De Niro was Jimmy Fallon’s guest that evening, and he was there to discuss a movie called The Irishman.

The Irishman? What a coincidence. Leo could have swaggered up to Robert and in his best Travis Bickle/Taxi Driver voice gone: “You talking ’bout me?”

How de Niro would have loved that.

But never mind. Leo has a photo with Jimmy Fallon for his scrapbook. Unfortunately he was unlucky in LA when he attended a breakfast hosted by Tourism Ireland. Jerry Springer turned up at it, but the two men missed each other by minutes.

Graduates of the Oireachtas Work Learning (OWL) programme outside Leinster House. Photograph: Maxwells Owl graduates celebrate outside Leinster House

OWL participants learn the wisdom of Leinster House

A nice good news story in Leinster House this week.

The first batch of participants in the groundbreaking Oireachtas Work Learning (OWL) programme graduated at an awards ceremony presided over by Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

The group were part of an applied learning, development and socialisation programme which gave work experience to young adults with an intellectual disability. For the past year, politicians and staff have been meeting these young workers as they go about their duties. The Houses of the Oireachtas is the first parliament in the world to host a programme of this kind.

Seven of them have already secured part-time jobs since finishing the course: four in Leinster House, two with the Public Appointments Service and one in the private sector.

The Ceann Comhairle was delighted with progress made by the group.

“During their time with us, the 10 participants were placed across different offices where they gained valuable experience in multiple areas. We in turn also learned from them. They each brought their own skills and experience and added greatly to the work that is done here every day. Their individual personalities and the determination they have already shown in their lives up to now served them well.”

During their year-long stint they got to experience work in areas such as catering, payroll, administration, library and research and committee offices. The training programme was designed to help them learn skills of employability in a safe and supportive environment.

The first graduates of OWL are Andrew Graydon, Brendan Heade, Clare Nolan, Craig McEntee, Dale Cross, Daniel Carroll, Kenny Delahunt, Sarah McNulty, Michael Baldwin and Shane McGuirk. Their families were invited to Leinster House to see them receive their certificates from the Ceann Comhairle and to celebrate their achievement.