Miriam Lord’s Week: ‘No’ campaign looks to high horse as it recruits Shergar

Poster of the Week was in Naas: ‘Shergar Wasn’t Bred By 2 Stallions. Vote No’

Poster of the Week: a hand-made black-and-white creation up on a pole on the main street in Naas, in the heart of Kildare horsey country.

Poster of the Week: a hand-made black-and-white creation up on a pole on the main street in Naas, in the heart of Kildare horsey country.


All is fair when love is war, it seems.

And it certainly applies when it comes to marriage equality referendum posters.

Two in particular are causing a lot of anger among supporters of a Yes vote. These are the ones with the gorgeous little toddlers gurgling winsomely down at us from lamp posts all over the country.

“Every Referendum Deserves a Mother and Father of a Red Herring” is their arresting slogan.

Or words to that effect.

The Tánaiste, among others, has condemned the No side’s posters which say every child has a right to a mother and a father as “demeaning”, while the attractive young couple featured in one of the stock photographs put out a statement this week saying they were strongly in favour of same-sex marriage.

Back in Leinster House, Mattie McGrath produced a dossier of photographs to illustrate a number of cases around the country where No posters had been removed or defaced.

He wants the Minister for Justice to tell the Garda to investigate.

And yesterday, Siptu and the Union of Students in Ireland unfurled a massive Yes banner down the side of Liberty Hall.

But our Poster of the Week is the hand-made black-and-white creation up on a pole on the main street in Naas, in the heart of Kildare horsey country.

“Shergar Wasn’t Bred By 2 Stallions. Vote No,” it says.

Meanwhile, Independent TD Finian McGrath was out canvassing in Fairview in Dublin when he decided to tweet a photo of himself next to a Yes sign. He was holding a bunch of leaflets in the picture.

Labour’s Ciara Conway was quick to inform him that they were Labour Party leaflets.

“I didn’t rob them,” protested Finian yesterday. “You see, I was at a meeting in Clontarf Castle and all the parties were there, so I picked up a few bundles of leaflets. Looking for ideas, like.

“I’ve no intention of joining Labour, though in fairness their leaflet is very good.”

Over in the Seanad, Jim Walsh, who resigned the Fianna Fáil whip in March in protest at the party’s support of the Children and Family Relationships Bill, is still occupying his FF seat in the chamber.

It’s not the first time he’s flounced out of Fianna Fáil.

He opposed the introduction of the civil partnership Bill in 2010 and left the parliamentary party.

But, happily, it seems Jim has had an epiphany.

On Tuesday, David Norris was delighted to note that Senator Walsh had spoken in support of civil partnership during a debate on the Late Late Show.

“That is wonderful,” trilled Norris. “I remember the way he went on in this House when he was so bitterly opposed to it. He put down septic, disgraceful amendments and then voted against it. Perhaps, after the passage of this referendum, we can look forward to all those on the No side joining us in saying how wonderful civil marriage is.”

But after the vote, no matter what the result, one argument definitely won’t be settled.

“I saw some posters suggesting that this referendum is about surrogacy,” said Burton at the launch of her party’s campaign.

“The referendum has nothing to do with surrogacy.”

Which is true.

So here’s bad news: all this wall-to-wall red-herring talk about surrogacy and mammies and daddies is merely a dry run for the real surrogacy debate. It will happen after the referendum, when the Government starts to legislate for the issue.

And all those people now shouting for show, will start shouting about surrogacy for real.

Happy days.

But then, all’s fair when love is war. . .

Journalism’s loss spells good news for Renua as Drennan signs up

Best of luck to journalist John Drennan who left his Sindo billet in Talbot Towers this week to become Renua’s director of communications and political strategy.

One of Drennan’s first jobs was to issue a statement on Tuesday announcing his appointment. News of his brave move began circulating among media people in Leinster House at the end of last week, but Lucinda’s new lieutenant asked his soon-to-be-former colleagues to give him a little time to tie up a few loose ends.

Happy to oblige a most decent skin.

Nonetheless, journalists can’t keep their traps shut. Politicians quickly got to hear about the unexpected arrival of a new spin doctor on the block.

They were agog.

Why, they asked, would somebody leave a well-paid job as a columnist on a national newspaper to join a start-up political outfit which hasn’t exactly caught the nation’s imagination since it launched?

In his statement, John talked about the “trust and responsibility conveyed by this new role in building a new politics where government will serve the interests of the citizens rather than the embedded Sstate.”

Right, so.

And that from a hard-bitten political writer whose most recent book wais called “Paddy Machiavelli: How to get ahead in Irish Politics.” But journalism’s loss spells good news for Renua on two fronts.

First off, the party must be feeling a little more comfortable on the financial front if it’s employing a full-time paid strategist.

Two months ago at its launch, the question of funding was raised with LucindaCreighton, who confessed they didn’t have a bank account yet. “We have no money,” she said, adding they would begin fundraisingin a few weeks.

To be fair, her party would be a lot better off if Fine Gael wasn’t pocketing substantial Sstate allowances for those Renua TDs who left the mother ship.

All political parties are paid a set annual allowance per member to enable them conduct their parliamentary business. In Fine Gael’s case, the party is paid €€27,000 for each TD. While Lucinda, Billy Timmons and Terence Flanagan are no longer members, FG remains entitled to collect their individual payments.

Still, if the party is hiring, things must be looking up.

Meanwhile, for a party which proudly worships at the shrine of OTA (openness, transparency and accountability), it clearly needs somebody to improve internal communications.

As news of this major appointment spread like wildfire among gossip-hungry politicians, Terence Flanagan appears to have been one of the last to find out about it.

On Tuesday, when asked by people in Leinster House what he thought about Drennan’s arrival, he seemed rather hazy on the details.

Then it turned out he’d only just heard about it himself.

Perhaps Lucinda was worried that the news might be too much for Terence, who is only getting over his recent radio meltdown when asked a few gentle questions about his new party.

Leyden not on message over email

A lively debate on Seanad reform – an issue so close to the hearts of our senators that less than a third of members turned up for it, according to David Norris.

That being said, senators had so much to say on the issue that the speaking time allotted was extended by a whopping 15 minutes.

Although that might have something to do with the Seanad’s newest member, the very verbose Gerald Craughwell. He likes to talk.

To save time and their ears, donkeys have been known to saw off their own hind legs when they see him approach.

The contributions from two Fianna Fáail senators stood out in particular.

Paschal Mooney had this to say: “One of the things that disappoint me about the report is that it didn’t make a recommendation that sSenators, once elected, would retain their titles, as they do in America. I can’t understand why you omitted that very important, fundamental issue that senators would remain titled ‘senators’. That would give you the sort of respect and dignity and status that you require. Because, God knows, it’s hard enough to get into this House.”

The general consensus afterwards is that Paschal was only joking.

However, Terry Leyden was being serious when he complained that senators were disadvantaged as they hadn’t had sufficient time to study the comprehensive report presented to the Taoiseach by the reform working group early last month.

And he spoke with the considerable weight of authority, reminding his colleagues: “I am the only Member of this House who served in gGovernment.” How impressively true. Terry was Junior minister of State for trade and marketing in the 1980s.

“I sought a copy of the current report of the working group last week, but it was not delivered to us before today. Generally documents are sent out well in advance of the debate. I sought a copy of the report from the Oireachtas lLibrary last Thursday,” complained the Only Member of the House Who Served in Government, God bless him.

Fine Gael’s Paul Coghlan, who wouldn’t be known as a man who operates at the cutting edge of technology, intervened: “We got it by e-mail.”

In fact, as former senator Joe O’Toole later pointed out, the full report was sent to all senators exactly five minutes after it was delivered to the Taoiseach.

But this wasn’t good enough for Terry, and him a former junior minister.

“You can e-mail, but a report of this significance and importance should be circulated. Are we like turkeys voting for Christmas? We should at least know what was in the report. We were asking what was in the report, but no one knew because it had not been circulated.”

He had it in full on April 13th.

But how could he, a former junior mminister of State for trade and marketing, be expected to read, or print out, an e-mail?

Who’s the turkey? We think Terry answered his own question there.

Small bundle of good news for Government press secretary

Government press secretary Feargal Purcell spends his time spreading the good news gospel according to his boss, Enda Kenny.

He dropped off the radar this week. But he wasn’t avoiding the media. In fact, Feargal had some good news of his own to impart when he resurfaced in Leinster House.

Purcell, who is a former Defence Forces spokesman, became a dad again on Sunday when his wife, Veronica, gave birth in Holles Street to their second child, Rian. He weighed in at 8lb 10z and his older brother, Cathal, is delighted.

It has already been pointed out to Feargal that he just needs one more for a future Kilkenny full-forward line.

The new arrival displayed impeccable timing by making his entrance on a bank holiday weekend, when things are usually very quiet on the news front. Mother, baby and press secretary all doing well.

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