Miriam Lord's Week


ANOTHER FIERY contribution from Deputy Lucinda Creighton at another fiery meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

One suspects on this Valentine’s weekend , after a week of shattered relationships, that Lucinda and Inda can forever be classed as one political match which will never strike.

In the highly charged atmosphere following the resignation of George Lee, the Dublin South East deputy spoke emotionally of how she has been the victim of an ongoing smear campaign at constituency level. She said she reported the situation to Enda Kenny on a number of occasions since 2008 and asked him to intervene, but no action was ever taken.

She eventually gave up trying.

Creighton, described by some who attended as having been close to tears when she spoke, outlined in detail the dirty tricks campaign she claims has been waged against her by one individual since 2008.

She alleged that the person behind the politically damaging rumours (we understand they concern the conduct of constituency business) is well known to Enda Kenny.

“Lucinda raised the issue in the context of George Lee feeling isolated and not supported by his party,” said one member. “She was obviously deeply upset by these false allegations, which have apparently surfaced all around the constituency and beyond. She didn’t know what was happening until a guy rang to warn her about what was being said. It’s not true, but you know what people say: there’s no smoke without fire.

“It came as news to most of us, but she sounded completely credible.”

Creighton, who didn’t name the person behind the alleged smears, told the meeting that her experience did not tally with the image of Enda Kenny as a great team leader, as he had done nothing to help her and stop the rumours.

She said it was wrong to say that the George Lee debacle arose simply because he was not suited to politics and that there was huge culpability on the FG side as well.

Yesterday, a senior party source said Creighton had raised “an internal party matter” and that the party leader has undertaken to respond soon. It was intimated that bringing up such an issue, in front of the parliamentary party, was inappropriate.

Pub talk prevails after FG meeting

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we have to listen to more stuff about George and Enda and it’s been a long five hours.

Fine Gael decamped to various hostelries around the city following their marathon five-hour parliamentary party meeting.

Although, in the interests of accuracy, by the time a reportedly very impressive and fired up Enda Kenny got to address them, around 20 members had stayed to listen to him. The rest sloped off after the temporary adjournment for a late Dáil vote.

Five long hours, and for most of them, according to FG sources, it was “honest, truthful and straight” and not in any way “vitriolic.” Fianna Fáilers in particular are taking great pleasure in Fine Gael’s discomfiture. This column has had communication from FFers who traversed the lower ground floor corridor in the Leinster House 2000 annex where the FG party rooms are housed. Why? Because they heard “raised voices” or “loud voices” or, in one case, “unmerciful roaring” as they passed.

Meanwhile, good old Alan Shatter was a rock of sense. “We should keep all of this in context, because the reality is that no one died,” commented the deputy for Dublin South, who just saw his own political career resurrected with the departure of George.

Somebody else said that Olivia Mitchell, the third FG TD in the constituency, deserved an Oscar for her performance in the wake of Lee’s exit.

Galway Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames was very upset at the way George Lee was treated by the party, and said so in no uncertain terms.

Westmeath firebrand, James “Bonkers” Bannon, kept his counsel. Unfortunately.

As midnight chimed, the exhausted parliamentarians relaxed. A large group high-tailed it across Kildare Street to Buswells Hotel, where a cross-party group had a knees up. We hear Michael Noonan – a superb mimic and raconteur – was star of the show.

Some headed off with Senator Paul Coghlan to his club on St Stephen’s Green and talked politics until the small hours, while a third group went to Enda’s preferred haunt in Dublin, The Gingerman Pub on Fenian Street.

Gormley goes Green with envy at FF HQ

Green Party leader John Gormley got to see at how the other half live on Tuesday night and he liked it.

On Tuesday evening, he paid his first visit to the Fianna Fáil party rooms to address the parliamentary party on the dog breeding Bill. The room was packed for the weekly meeting, and as he looked out over the serried ranks of TDs and Senators, the amount of people present must have been quite a novelty.

He has fewer than 10 parliamentary party members. And that figure got even smaller yesterday following Senator Déirdre de Búrca’s withering “Dear John” Valentine’s letter, in which she dumped her Seanad seat and her party leader.

When he arrived in Fianna Fáil’s den on the fifth floor of Leinster House, Gormley was given a big round of applause.

John looked around, saw the twinkling lights of the night city outside and declared “Lovely view you’ve got here!” While there had been gnashing of teeth and loud yelps about certain aspects of the legislation from some quarters before his arrival, the FF dogs of war were very well behaved for the Minister. Not for the first time during the week, Mattie was the dog who didn’t bark.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen noted the various issues raised during the earlier discussion and he outlined them for Gormley, who responded to them all. There was a brief mention of the Ward Union Hunt, but there seemed no appetite for it and it petered out.

Confusion as Dáil gets own ‘Nedward’

Will the real Ned O’Keeffe please stand up? Because it seems there are two Ned O’Keeffes in Dáil Éireann, both of them on the Fianna Fáil benches.

This will come as no surprise to the gaelgoirs, but we’ll be looking at Gaeltacht Minister Éamon Ó Cuív in a different light from now on. According to a correspondent: “Ned O’Keeffe’s full name is Edward. Strictly speaking, the Irish version of Edward is Eadbhard, but Edward de Valera chose to call himself Éamon in Irish, so one must assume that the English version of his grandson, Éamon Ó Cuív’s name would be Edward (Ned) O’Keeffe.” Ó Cuív and O’Keeffe – the Dáil’s own Nedward.

Chips are down for Sargent’s spuds

Ah yes, spring has arrived and a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Or in the case of Trevor Sargent – potatoes.

Vegetable tart Trevor has a thing for spuds and the arrival of this season’s earlies have set his pulse racing.

“Starting Early Potatoes in Egg Boxes!” he announces in his popular blog “Trevor’s Kitchen Garden.” The Minister for Food is beside himself with excitement at the imminent start of the growing season. But first, the lesson: “The world of domesticated potato growing is a venerable one, going back some 9,000 years to the shores of Lake Titicaca.”

And then the confession. Trevor has thrown over Colleen in favour of Orla. His Orla is fully certified “for peace of mind.” He’s “chitting” her at the moment in the egg box and intends to transfer her into a grow bag by the end of the month.

Of course, it’ll all end in tears. He’ll get fed up with Orla in a few months and return to his first love – and main crop mainstay – the ample and rosy-cheeked Rooster.

Still, it’s nice to see Trevor with that potato pep back in his step again.

Kitt hits right note with Haiti appeals

Fianna Fáil’s Tom Kitt has performed two successful gigs in aid of Haiti – he went down a storm in Taylor’s Threerock in Rathfarnham when he sang and played the guitar with Tommy Sands and guests.

Then the deputy for Dublin South wowed a packed house at the Tara Vale in Ballymoney, Co Wexford. This time, it was just Tom and his guitar, and a good few bob was raised.

Tom, father of music crowdpullers Thomas and David, completes a residency in Dublin’s Harcourt Hotel on March 4th, where he has been playing on a regular basis with The Heartbeats.

Music? “Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, The Eagles, Springsteen, that sort of thing . . .”

We saw Kitt in deep discussion with Alan Shatter in the Dáil during the week – probably planning a Dublin South benefit concert for the victims of the George Lee tsunami.

He will perform in a quartet with Shatter, Olivia Mitchell and Alex White. First song on the playlist: “Oh, happy days are here again . . . ” But will proven vote-getter Tom succumb to local pressure to reverse his decision to step down at the next election?

Action strikes a nerve with Minister

This work to rule by public servants is really beginning to annoy TDs. Deputies are complaining they can’t get written answers to parliamentary questions, while they are also hitting a brick wall when trying to secure fast-track passports for forgetful constituents.

The action has been felt at the highest level. We hear Minister Éamon Ó Cuív is still in a state of shock after telephoning his own office recently only to be informed by the person at the other end of that they were not going to deal with his query. Oh, go bhfóire Dia!

Bertie’s memoirs are a real work of art

And finally, an idea for a different Valentine’s gift for that special person in your life. Our thanks to Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin for alerting us. He spoke in the Dáil on Wednesday about tax exemption for artists.

“Great literary works such as the memoirs of Bertie Ahern and Gerry Ryan qualified for the scheme. I always found that there was more craft to Deputy Ahern than art, although his skills were undoubtedly many. Lo and behold, I noticed at Christmas that his memoirs were available on CD, read by himself. I considered buying a copy to send to a person I did not like but decided I did not dislike anybody enough to send them such an item in the post.”

Committee work not child’s play for TD

Green deputy Paul Gogarty was complaining this week about the very poor attendance at his education committee meeting. The lack of interest from the Fianna Fáil members in particular raised his ire. Paul is a member of the Children’s Committee, which is due to report next Tuesday. According to an observer, he has attended four of their 63 meetings over the last two years or so. Surely that can’t be true?

Harris talks a lot of wind about Lee

Runner up for quote of the week is FF Senator Mary White, for informing the Seanad: “I am a republican socialist...” Quote of the week comes from Senator Eoghan Harris. One of the many reasons why he knew George Lee would be unsuited to a career in politics, he told Newstalk’s Eamon Keane, is because George is the type of namby-pamby new man who would never break wind in public: “Give me a natural farter anyday . . .” Note to catering staff: Remove the chickpea salad when Senator Harris is in the vicinity.

Resignation means more pain for Blain

Dorothy Blain is bearing up. She is the Fine Gael supporter who was injured in the melee in the RDS when George Lee made his triumphant entrance after winning the Dublin South byelection.

In the pandemonium that accompanied his arrival, the doughty Dorothy was knocked flying and ended up with a broken foot.

But she didn’t mind, for she had canvassed for George, thought he was brilliant, and his victory eased the pain. We met her on Wednesday. She was sad, but philosophical. First he broke her foot. Then he broke her heart.