Miriam Lord’s Week

Moving to the exits

The Dáil lived the song of the summer on Wednesday when politicians stayed out way past their bedtime to play Daft Punk Politics.

All together boys:
We're up all night 'til the sun
We're up all night to drink some
We're up all night for good fun
We're up all night legislatin...'

Did any of them Get Lucky, as the tune goes? Not likely.


(Not even Tom Barry, now licking his wounds back in Cork and said to be so mortified by his appalling "lapgate" lapse that he was talking about resigning on Thursday.)

Given the night that was in it, and having filed Thursday’s “Mystic Miriam” column informing readers that the Bill had been passed (it’s a special gift, we also predicted Paschal Donohoe’s elevation), we went to the bar to carry out vital research.

The place was hopping.

Deputies and Ministers dipped in and out, meeting constituents and interest groups and the usual intake of third-level students.

A group of executives from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce arrived in after a meeting in Leinster House. A steady stream of Dublin-based TDs and Senators dropped in to talk to them.

Service continued
The Visitors' Bar closed as normal. Service continued behind the partition in the Members' Bar until, we hear, a ridiculously late hour.

The authorities could have wheeled in a Burco boiler and a box of teabags and still allowed the politicians their space to gather and take refreshment.

Leinster House staff worked and waited until 5am, as did journalists, all performing heroically without recourse to porter. It was a long night.

But some TDs were more exhausted than others, and it had nothing to do with the availability of drink.

As the abortion debate staggered slowly towards dawn, a sizeable number of deputies were suffering sleep deprivation for the second night in a row.

They had been evacuated from their hotel in the early hours of the previous morning. Senator Terry Leyden told the Seanad that “six units of the fire brigade, an ambulance and six gardaí” attended the scene at the Mont Clare Hotel, just down the road from Leinster House.

“It was an electrical fire in the basement. The hotel was evacuated in an orderly manner. The management and staff deserve a great deal of credit.

A tragedy
"If it had been more serious, it would have been a tragedy because there were many deputies and Senators resident who were woken up at 3 o'clock this morning."

Six gardaí?

Fire brigade?


Sounds more like closing time down at the Members’ Bar.

Are we closer to Berlin than we think?

While Irish women groan over Lapgate, spare a thought for their German sisters.

Derek Scally, our man in Berlin, brings news that public broadcaster ZDF has denied charges of sexism over an advertisement for the European women's soccer championship.

It shows a woman in the German national strip kicking a dirty football into a front-loader washing machine.

Then the woman – whose head we never see – sits happily on top of the machine while it runs through the “leather” wash cycle.

A woman’s voice-over says: “Clean ball in Sweden. The European women’s championship on ZDF.” The German for clean is “sauber”, apparently intended as a pun on “zauber” for magic.

The own-goal ad has gone viral on the internet, prompting one newspaper to ask on its front page yesterday: “Is ZDF balla-balla”, meaning bonkers.

“We shouldn’t go too far with political correctness,” said station director Peter Frey, declaring himself delighted with the impact of the advert and dismissing the fuss.

Leading women's rights campaigner Alice Schwarzer said wearily she wasn't surprised by the ad, or the mindset of those who created it.

“It reminds me of how our women’s team was rewarded for their last European championship win in 1989 – with a tea set.”

Yes. You read one that right.

A tea set.

Meanwhile, Rainer Brüderle of Germany’s ruling Free Democrats (FDP) has been criticised for telling a journalist from Stern magazine, while staring at her chest, that she would “no doubt look very well in a dirndl” – the traditional Bavarian dress.

Official statistics show that German women earn, on average, one fifth less than their male colleagues.

After the shenanigans in the Dáil this week, are we closer to Berlin than we think?

More dizzy splits and rotations by the Technical Group

Since it was established, the Dáil’s Technical Group has seen more splits and rotations than a figure-skating gala.

When the house returns after the summer break, a new brace of speakers will be representing the group at Leaders' Questions. Stephen Donnelly and Séamus Healy of Tipperary South are replacing Mattie McGrath and John Halligan at the high-profile sessions.

The newcomers were chosen at this week’s lunchtime meeting of the group, but not before the Technical Twins had stormed out in protest.

For some time, Mick Wallace and Ming Flanagan have been arguing that it is their turn to take over. They made their case at a heated meeting of the Independent grouping last month, when it was decided to postpone the decision.

On Wednesday, the TDs decided to hold an election, much to the disgust of Mick Wallace. He declared he was leaving to seek legal advice. Ming Flanagan then marched out after him.

A vote took place in their absence and Donnelly and Healy got the nod.

‘Last supper’ for Lucinda, but don’t mention the war

Lucinda Creighton attended a "last supper" with her female parliamentary party colleagues on Tuesday night, her imminent departure from their ranks the unspoken issue of the evening.

It was arranged a number of weeks ago after the Fine Gael women – minus Lucinda and Fidelma Healy Eames – met to discuss their approach to the abortion legislation, particularly frustrated by the dominance of male voices speaking against it at parliamentary party meetings.

“We decided to knuckle down and support the legislation. When the next meeting happened, we presented a united front, all sitting in the same row. We made our views known,” said one.

Another noted how Michael Noonan – a firm favourite among the female contingent – noted them taking their seats all together and remarked, "I think there's something going down with the women."

Senator Imelda Henry made the arrangements and the women went off to dinner at Matt the Thrasher’s in Pembroke Street.