Miriam Lord’s Week: taking to the political catwalk

Dressed up with somewhere to go for charity

The state of them in Leinster House. Sashaying up and down the stairs, clip-clopping like ponies around the Dáil chamber, pouting at the ush- ers, falling off their platforms.

They’ll be back to normal in a couple of weeks. It’s all to do with the second Annual Oireachtas Charity Fashion Show which happens on November 12th in the Shelbourne Hotel.

Last year’s inaugural show was a huge success and raised more than €20,000 for motor neurone disease research. The event was established after Nicky McFadden, the Fine Gael TD for Longford- Westmeath, was diagnosed with MND and she joined forces with her colleagues in Leinster House to put together the fashion fundraiser.

Minister Jimmy “Zoolander” Deenihan was one of the main organisers and he brought stylist Marietta Doran on to the team as show director.


Radio station Newstalk is sponsoring this year’s extravaganza, which is no bad thing as some of the politicians who have agreed to “model” might be best highlighted in sound rather than pictures.

Among those set to strut their stuff are Ministers Simon Coveney and Richard Bruton and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Members of FG’s famous five (a-side) bunch are out in force for the occasion: we see the likes of Eoghan Murphy, Seán Conlan, Martin Haydon and Anthony Lawlor on the start list.

The glamorous Mary Mitchell O’Connor heads up a long list of female TDs and senators taking to the runway.

They include Áine Collins, Heather Humphreys, Sandra McLellen, Fidelma Healy Eames, Hildegarde Naughton, Michelle Mulherin, Deirdre Clune, Catherine Noone, Cáit Keane, Imelda Henry, Susan O’Keeffe and Averil Power.

GAA stars Bernard Brogan and Paul Galvin are among the star guests drafted in to show up the politicians.

The professional models doing their best not to laugh at the competition include Rosanna Davison, Roz Purcell, Cristina Aston, Sarah Morrissey, Karen Fitzpatrick, Yumiko Chen, Naomi Cullen and Matthew John.

We note that Suzanne Jackson of So Sue Me Blog will be taking part.

She was doing the fashion show in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre that Enda Kenny crashed during the referendum campaign. It’s very brave of her to venture back among politicians.

And what about the clothes? All from leading Irish designers including tailor Louis Copeland, couturier Jen Kelly, Helen Cody, Seán Byrne, Heidi Higgins, Niamh O'Neill, Claire Garvey and Helen Steele. Award-winning milliners Mark T. Burke, Aoife Hannon and Aoife Kirwan will supply the hats.

The evening – with entertainment from accordion prodigy Liam O’Connor and champion Irish dancer Kelly McDonnell – kicks off at 7pm.

Tickets are €50 each, available from 01-631 3806 or bernadette.lee@ahg.gov.ie.

Press corps’ Central American odyssey

We won’t lie about it. Yes, we were a little envious of those lucky journalists who got to go on that long trip around Central America with President Higgins.

Thanks to the infernal smartphone, we were treated to lovely snaps as they journeyed from Mexico to El Salvador to Costa Rica. All smiles. Lots of men in braided caps with tropical plants in the background. And parrots, probably.

Little did we know, but that group suffered. Oh, yes. Midway through their excursion, they all experienced a Mexican wave of epic proportions. Chicken wings, said some. Sandwiches, said others – but ice-cubes were considered the most likely culprit. Some were more stricken than others, but few escaped.

By the time they returned to Ireland after their 12-day odyssey, the large Irish delegation had thoroughly bonded as a result of their shared experience and through the sharing of drugs.

Michael D played an absolute blinder. Joe Costello, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, was a trouper.

Medals for service above and beyond the call of nature should be awarded to all concerned.

Bears, boars and the benefits of watching Vincent

’Tis the season for launching political tomes. So we were slightly baffled when an Irish-language children’s book arrived on the desk this week with a grumpy looking cartoon bear on the cover.

Uinseann Donn was the title, which didn’t ring any bells straight off.

It tells the story of this big, brown, combative bear called Uinseann. Despite his inner curmudgeon, Uinseann ends up minding a lost baby boar and reuniting it with its mother.

One bear, two boars and Vincent Browne – the inspiration for this pretty hardback, written by Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin , founder of Futa Fata, a childrens’ publisher based in Spiddal. Tadhg explains that, involved as he is in children’s books, he spends a lot of time working on stories featuring lovely storylines and lovely characters.

“Fun and all as my job is, I’ve been trying recently to connect more with the world of adults, so that I’m not a complete social outcast,” he tells us.

To this end, he decided to start watching Vincent Browne but he fell asleep – and he dreamed of a grumpy brown bear which was really a peaceful, sociable bear underneath the gruff exterior.
Naturally, Tadhg called him Uinseann Donn. Which is the Irish for Vincent Browne.

Paschal goes all Velvet with some Psy style
Speech of the week belongs to the ever-earnest Paschal Donohoe, Minister for European Affairs. (Also known as Paschal Lamb to the Slaughter due to the punishing regularity with which he is sent out to bat on the airwaves for the sins of his senior Government colleagues.)

His discourse to the think- tank known as the Institute of International and European Affairs (they’re mad for the round-table discussions) was called “Reflections on the Horizon Ahead.”

Our leading thinkers, not to mention “thought leaders”, strapped themselves in for the roller-coaster ride to follow.

Paschal began daringly with “the extraordinary story of the pop single Gangnam Style and the South Korean music star, Psy”.

This was by way of demonstrating “the economic and social environment within which Ireland exists” and his “views on the guiding principles of Irish policy towards the EU” and “how both have determined my priorities as Minister for European Affairs.”

Whereupon Deputy Donohoe galloped around the platform pretending to ride a horse singing “Oooh, sexy lady, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop!”

Sadly, he didn’t.

However, Phibsboro’s finest explained – in eye-watering detail – how the Korean singer’s meteoric rise l demonstrates the power of the communications revolution.

And what an exciting finish for his audience of thought leaders and corporate networkers.

”If I began with Gangnam Style it feels only appropriate that I should end with Lou Reed” – though God knows what he would think of his inclusion in this sentence, let alone this speech.

Sadly, we’ll never know, what with poor Lou passing away only last week.

”He sang ‘You’re going to reap just what you sow’. Despite our current difficulties we have benefited, we have contributed and Europe will play a crucial role in our recovery.”

Bravo, Paschal.