Miriam Lord: I had no hand, act or part in writing my column
After the recent outbreak of amnesia in Kildare Street, I've conveniently forgotten everything
Former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: When in doubt, just forget. Photograph: Tom Honan
At the very outset – and let me be absolutely clear about this – I had no hand, act or part in the erection of last week’s column.
I did not commission it. I did not prepare it for public view. I did not solicit subscriptions on the strength of it.
It is imperative that people understand this.
I don’t know how it appeared in The Irish Times. The last I saw of it was on the evening of Friday, November 24th, in the presence of a dog called Sparky. It was on my laptop screen one minute – and the next, it was gone.
At the time, I was in the box room of my own home and nowhere near Tara Street, where I understand the column in question was edited. I had no hand, act or part in this process. How could I? That is not my job. There are very strict demarcation rules, and for good reason.
For the sake of completeness, I have to say I don’t remember anything at all. This is not unusual. I write thousands of words every week and I do not have a dedicated network of personal staff to remind me about things.
Yes, there is Sparky, but he can’t read. He is, however, black and white, which we all agree is very important and I make no apologies for saying it.
There are those who think there was nothing to stop me lifting a pint, sorry, phone, and having a word in the editor’s ear about maybe taking out that racy paragraph about the highly litigious billionaire, the nun, the gold-plated badminton racket and the raspberry blancmange.
But how could I, as I had forgotten about it?
To those wondering why I did nothing, I ask: “Has your phone never fallen into the toilet and taken a week to dry out on the radiator?”
As I already said, I write thousands of words every week which, I am proud to say, are frequently described as “not unforgettable”.
And there are those who say alarm bells should have gone off in my head as soon as I typed the name of this handsome and popular billionaire because, apparently, klaxons go off in newsrooms all over the country whenever he is mentioned because he is considered “toxic”.
Let me be very clear that, as a highly experienced hack of many years’ standing, this never occurred to me.
I know now that concerned colleagues emailed about the column and its possible explosive and expensive consequences. To those wondering why I did nothing, I ask: “Has your phone never fallen into the toilet and taken a week to dry out on the radiator?”
Fortunately, I had a singular flashback this week concerning my non-involvement in the production of the aforementioned column, which I merely wrote.
I am now in a position to recall a crucial message from two noted experts on the backdesk: “Listen. Is there any chance you might file early for once in your life? The annual sub-editors’ all-you-can-drink Christmas dinner-dance and mass brawl is on tonight. It’s all right for you, you have no function, but we need to be down the pub by eight.”
There you have it. I had no function. I did nothing wrong. And anyway, the offending paragraph didn’t even appear in the end.
I want to thank everyone for rushing to my support during a difficult week.
“A fine woman done down who I will back to the hilt because I know she had no hand, act or part in the production of the ‘Miriam Lord’ column, and I’ll repeat that until it’s stupid o’clock and Micheál Martin backs me into a corner.” – Leo Varadkar
“She has no function.” – Editor
“Who amongst us has never asked that question: Doric, Ionian or Corinthian?” – Winston Churchtown
“She was nowhere near that column when it blew up.” – Gerry Adams
“They didn’t have to kill a defenceless paragraph. It could have been adopted.” – Peter Fitzpatrick, FG backbencher
“The annual sub-editors’ black-tie all-you-can-drink Christmas dinner-dance and mass brawl is now a matter for the tribunal and we will be making no further comment until all the stitches come out.” – The Irish Times
“I’ll burst yis all.” – Alan Kelly.
I have no intention of resigning.
How FF TD’s ‘divine intervention’ in Rome averted an election
Business in Leinster House quickly returned to normal after the possibility of a snap general election evaporated on Tuesday with Frances Fitzgerald’s resignation. But before that, TDs were very nervous.
We hear Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor instructed her team in Dún Laoghaire to do an immediate leaflet drop in the constituency. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a leaflet ready to go. So instead, they sent out ones from last year where she thanked voters for returning her to Dáil Eireann for another term.
Meanwhile, over in Rome, Fianna Fáil TD for Kerry, John Brassil, was on a weekend break with his wife Bernadette when he noticed a group of young men carrying a large wooden cross near the famous Trevi fountain. He asked them if they were actors or priests and they explained they were seminarians and were offering to pray for people’s intentions that evening back in the seminary.
“Give me a piece of paper, quick!” cried John, recognising a just cause for divine intervention in Ireland’s political hour of need.
“Dear God, don’t let there be a general election in Ireland,” he wrote, pinning his note to the cross. He then sent a photo of it to the Fianna Fáil WhatsApp group, just as TDs were beginning to fear their leaders’ robust approach to the Frances Fitzgerald email affair was about to implode.
By Monday night, John’s prayer was answered. More emails turned up and the political advantage moved decisively from Leo Varadkar to Micheál Martin.
Comedian leaves a great impression at Leinster House dinner
Impressionist Oliver Callan was in Leinster House on Wednesday with his partner John, holding court with a succession of starstruck politicians in the members’ restaurant.
He was guest of affable Mayo Senator Paddy Burke, who entertained the political satirist to dinner along with former Fine Gael fundraiser extraordinaire Ann Strain and her husband Mick. There was a rush of TDs and Senators to Callan’s table. They know that the only thing worse than getting lampooned by him is not being mentioned at all.
Michael Ring – a regular target – told the comedian he’s “only great on the rah-dio” while Paschal Donohoe said his wife keeps thinking it’s really him when she hears Oliver doing a take-off. Heather Humphreys called in to say hello to her countyman, while Paul Kehoe and John Paul Phelan also dropped by. Leo sent his apologies.
After dinner the group repaired to the bar, where Callan treated everyone to his excellent Micheál Martin impression.
Howlin bids his chef de cabinet adieu
At his going-away do on Thursday night in Toners pub on Baggot Street, there was much hilarity over Neil’s new line of work: he is leaving to become a principal officer in the Department of Justice.
This gave Brendan the chance in his speech to rework that famous line from former Labour leader Frank Cluskey about Michael D upon being informed that his TD wasn’t at a crucial parliamentary party meeting because he was at a peace conference in Central America.
“Given the choice of saving the Labour Party or saving the Department of Justice, Neil has taken the easy option.”
The Labour crew were in good spirits, with the general view that the party, thanks to Howlin and Alan Kelly, has come out well from the whole Fitzgerald/Justice email saga.
New Minister has no time for bog-standard pronunciation
Our sympathies to Paul Kehoe, super junior Minister at the Department of Defence, who was drafted in at the last minute on Wednesday to take a question on behalf of Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys after she was unavoidably detained.
Paul was handed a departmental reply to a question from Joan Burton on the future of the two RTÉ orchestras.
The Wexford TD, who wouldn’t be known as a culture vulture, gamely read out what was in front of him.
First he name-checked a well-known “en-sem-bell” before making a number of references to the “Irish Bar Queue Orchestra” – an outfit which should be in great demand during the Christmas party season.
Joan was gobsmacked.
Heather, of course, has since been promoted to Minister for Enterprise, with Josepha Madigan of Dublin Rathdown taking over her old job.
Josepha, whose wide-ranging portfolio includes responsibility for bogs, is a stickler for proper pronunciation, as Independent TD for Roscommon and turfcutters’ champion Michael Fitzmaurice found out when he introduced himself.
“Howya Josie,” he said.
She soon put him right. Her name is Josepha, and most important of all, it is pronounced “Jo-see-fa”.
Fitzmaurice wished her luck. “I’ll see ya on a bog someday.”
Ross cries foul over sports grants leak
On Monday night, with all the uncertainty about an election, Shane Ross aka Winston Churchtown was in St John’s Hall in Ballinteer, playing bingo with the ordinary folk of Dublin Rathdown.
At the bingo Winston certainly seemed well up on the latest developments. A colleague texted to say he “just told my elderly mam there will be no election because the tánaiste is going to resign in the morning”.
It was looking like a good week for him as he had the annual sports grants to disburse.
Unlike Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe, both of whom generously allowed then junior minister Michael Ring the honour of announcing them, Winston kept this plum gig for himself, slapping an embargo on any early release of the details.
This didn’t stop Fine Gael backbenchers trumpeting the good news on social media to clubs in their constituencies well in advance of the official announcement. Shane was not pleased and was overheard complaining in the members’ bar on Thursday about leaks.
Nobody knows how the information got out, but we noted Kerry Minister of State Brendan Griffin was quite the hero among his FG colleagues this week.