Miriam Lord’s Week

Zappone leads Seattle parade, Enda does his best Blondie, Fine Gael's general secretary has a week to forget and the Oireachtas golf election goes with a swing

Zappone to lead parade in Seattle

Senator Katherine Zappone will be wearing the green with pride in her native Seattle this afternoon when she leads the city's St Patrick's Day parade as official grand marshal.

”It’s such a huge honour and a most amazing homecoming for me,” says the fourth- generation Irishwoman, whose great grandmother, Catherine Brady, left Virginia in Cavan in 1858.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, but it's a pity Enda Kenny can't come out here to Washington state and join me instead of supporting the New York parade."


Zappone is disappointed by the Taoiseach’s decision to march in the Big Apple’s parade, which prohibits gay groups from taking part. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, along with Labour Minister Joan Burton, have refused to participate because of the non-inclusive nature of the event.

“The Taoiseach says it is all about being Irish, but my sex- uality is integral to my being Irish,” Zappone says. “He appointed me to the Seanad as a lesbian married woman, so it is very disappointing that he should adopt this attitude.”

The independent senator has a busy schedule of events over the next few days when the St Patrick’s week festival is in full swing. She was presented with her grand marshal’s sash yesterday at Mayor Ed Murray’s proclamation lunch.

The recently married Murray, who is Seattle’s first gay mayor, has family in Tip- perary, Limerick and Down.

Katherine was invited to head the parade by none other than JFK himself – John F Keane, Ireland’s honorary consul in Seattle – on behalf of “the Irish community at large” and the Irish Heritage Club.

One of her first duties will involve the ceremonial "laying o' the green line" down the middle of Fourth Street to mark the route. This tradition was started by John Doyle Bishop, who was the first grand marshal in 1972.

On the eve of St Patrick’s Day, the flamboyant Bishop, a successful couturier, used to paint an emerald green stripe down the main street to his shop door, regularly getting arrested for his trouble.

The painting is now a community effort.

Senator Zappone and her wife Dr Ann Louise Gilligan met at Boston college and celebrated a life-partnership ceremony in 1982 before they moved to Dublin.

“She was the first Irishwoman I ever met,” says Zappone.

Gilligan won’t be in Seattle this year, but Zappone’s brothers and sisters will be marching with her today, along with all her old classmates from Holy Names Academy.

Best Blond Taoiseach in the World rocks America

Blondie was on top form at a private gig in Washington on Thursday.

The Best Blond Taoiseach in the World with Whom to Do Business wowed his audience during a special performance for the US Chamber of Commerce. There was just the one song, but it was a biggie.

“Call me! On the line/Call me Call me any, anytime

Call me, there’s no prob /You can call me any day or night/

Call me!”

Mad stuff.

Blondie really rocked the hall.

This was especially for the transatlantic fans. The folks back home aren’t familiar with either the tune or the lyrics of Call Me.

The Yanks raved over it though, which was the whole point of the performance.

“Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, any way

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, any day-aaay.”

Granted, the verse is not as catchy as the chorus.

“If you got a problem, you have an issue or anxiety or concern or a proposition or a proposal, I want to hear it. My number is a public number you can call me anytime.”

Because it’s dial “E” for Enda in the mother country. Apparently everyone has his number. (They have his number alright, but in a different manner of speaking.)

The Chamber of Commerce guys were mightily impressed.

Accessible Enda explained how citizens in other countries “find it difficult to figure out how anybody can ring up the prime minister – or the Taoiseach in my case – and say: ‘I want to talk to you’.”

Not just folks in other countries. Baffled Irish journalists at the Washington event also found it difficult to fathom. The only public number they have is nein, nein, nein.

“Sometimes I don’t get a chance to answer all the calls but you get calls from citizens who say: ‘look – here’s an issue, you address that.’”


“That is responsibility taken to the ultimate level of politics.”

Really, really?

Unfortunately, while Enda is dashing around the USA , his encouraging words to potential American investors spell devastation for certain sectors in Irish society.

Lobbyists face financial ruin. Who will buy expensive access now when any Joe Soap can lobby the main man for the price of a phone call?

We hear Joe Duffy is considering legal action on behalf of a shocked radio phone-in industry. Why talk to Joe when you can dial The Talking Taoiseach?

However, upon further examination of the lyrics, we find Blondie’s “call me” invitation with its “open door to Government” is a qualified one, “open to everybody channelled through the US Chamber of Commerce.”

Just as we suspected – it’s a different tune for local consumption from the songbook.

“Hanging on the Telephone” is the home favourite.

We have great plans for Quiet Word Philantropic

Now that Enda is taking phone calls from anybody who wants to talk to him, it may be foolhardy of us to plough ahead with the new business.

But the grant is all but nailed down now.

Here at Quiet Word Philantropic we are synergising strategic partnerships between friendly politicians and exiles who are desperate to live at home full-time but cannot afford to do it.

The exiles miss their beloved Ireland.

The politicians want them to pay a bit of tax for the love of God.

We’re hoping to make a few bob out of the consulting.

QWP is a public/private start-up SME in the not-for-profit space with a competitive fee structure. Our non-profit public arm is not directly attached to our lucrative private arm – a structural chest, or fiduciary embonpoint, separates the two while facilitating a 100 per cent hands-on approach.

Our recently- launched Action Plan Blueprint for Recovery and Progress Ireland provides a basket of initiatives and suite of recommendations with a mission statement at the start and executive summary at the end.

So obviously, we mean business.

Our model is based on the Emigrant Bus concept, where the Irish State contributes towards the cost of helping people return to Ireland after years of living abroad in reduced circumstances. It’s heart-warming charitable work.

Our triple N clients (nobs not navvies) are similarly marooned in foreign lands because of financial considerations.

They ache to live 24/7 in the country they adore, but not enough to pay the same amount of tax as every other schmuck. If they reside here above a set number of days they get caught in the net.

Here’s where our cost-positive buy-a-day plan comes in: throw the odd spare hundred thousand or so into a few worthy causes and get time back in lieu.

As noted specialists in the field of having a word in the right ear, we are getting excellent political traction and goodwill here.

Soon you may never have to leave home again.

We also have a number of tax efficient wheezes/profile enhancing packages in development as part of our vision for Trophy Philanthropy.

Quiet Word Philanthropic: Well connected and flying under the radar to deliver the optimum outcomes for all stake-holders. Grant pending.

Of course, there’ll be no executive bus. Our Triple N (nobs not navvies) clients will travel home in an executive jet, staffed by attractive air hostesses in place of kindly old nuns.

We have a pass for Leinster House. We know people.

I think we’ll do well.

Not a good week for Fine Gael’s general secretary

It’s not going well at the moment for the top brass in Fine Gael.

Party general secretary, Tom Curran will feel the loss of election strategist Frank Flannery, who knew his numbers and seat selections.

But Frank had to go, jettisoned by Enda when his Rehab run-in with the Public Accounts Committee threatened to singe the Taoiseach’s reputation.

Double whammy
And it turned into a double whammy early this week for Curran when Fine Gael's national executive met in Leinster House to elect its chairman.

The role has been carried out in recent years by party stalwart and headquarters favourite Brian Murphy, who is one of Leo Varadkar’s advisers in the day job. Murphy was expected to continue in the position for the coming year.

However, when the votes were counted, there was a knockback for the Mount Street brigade. Seán McKiernan from Cavan, as expected, finished in third place, but in the final shake-out, Murphy was beaten into second place by Clare’s Leonora Carey.

Family connections
The new chair is steeped in Fine Gael – her brother Joe Carey is a Clare TD while her father Donal is a former junior minister and county TD.

We hear general secretary Curran “visibly paled” when the result was announced.

Oireachtas golf election goes with a swing

The Oireachtas Golf Society held a very genteel annual meeting in the secure confines of the members’ private dining room in Leinster House recently.

Club secretary in perpetuity (at least that’s the way it seems) and former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, opted for the dining room because the back of the Dáil members’ bar was far too public and people might be earwigging on them.

The election of officers was conducted without any rows and everyone seemed happy with the results.

Big Phil Hogan was reinstated as president, which means another day out in Kilkenny this August when he hosts his annual prize outing in the surrounds of Mount Juliet.

Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen is the new captain of the society. His captain's prize day is scheduled for Esker Hills in Tullamore. It'll be in June, to help the exhausted and traumatised golfers recover from the local and European elections.

Labour’s Arthur Spring is vice-captain while Seanad cathaoirleach Paddy Burke remains on as treasurer.

Donie, now that he isn't busy in Leinster House, has been dreaming up big plans for the society. We hear he's hoping to take the crew on a few jaunts to Europe, if the golfing politicos are up to joining an Oireachtas tour.