Michael Ring drives off with Hollywood star's sausage


IT WAS a glamorous start to the political week for Minister for Tourism Michael Ring. He was hobnobbing in Ashford Castle on Tuesday with Hollywood heart-throb, Chris O’Donnell, who was in Ireland doing a photoshoot for a US magazine.

The Ringer has something in common with O’Donnell, who played Robin to Val Kilmer’s Batman in the film Batman Forever. In Mayo, Michael is the energetic Robin to Enda’s Batman.

Or maybe not. Minister Ring took the opportunity to present the actor – whose paternal ancestors hail from Donegal – with a certificate of Irish heritage.

“He’s a lovely guy. He said he was enjoying himself so much that he wanted to bring his wife and children over here for a holiday. I told him all about the beauty of the west of Ireland and explained to him about Croagh Patrick and Trapattoni.”

However, Michael has one regret after his meeting with the NCIS: Los Angeles star. “I had some lovely black pudding for him from Kelly’s of Newport, but I left it in the boot of the car. I’m raging.”

O’Donnell was in the west to shoot a 16-page feature for Watch, the magazine of the CBS television network. Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus and Ashford Castle supported the trip.

Meanwhile, Mr Ring has bucked the trend with his recent appointment of a special adviser – an action usually guaranteed to spark controversy.

As a junior Minister, he isn’t entitled to have one. However, perhaps anxious that the Sir Humphreys in the Civil Service won’t steal a march on him, he has ploughed ahead and recruited one.

The twist is that the Ringer’s special adviser is working on a pro bono basis, lending his services free. Take a bow, the very politically experienced Paul McGrath, former Fine Gael deputy for Longford-Westmeath.