Technically speaking, a great night was had


THE INDEPENDENT members of the technical group enjoyed a night away in exotic Mullingar recently, where a good time was had by all.

The 11 decamped to the Bloomfield House Hotel for a special meeting to decide who will represent them at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. This is a highly prized slot, giving the group’s two designated speakers valuable media exposure.

As it turned out, only one place was up for grabs as Shane Ross successfully held on to his position.

Four TDs put themselves forward for the slot vacated by Finian McGrath. (Finian remains on as chairman of the group, which affords him plenty of media opportunities.) John Halligan (Waterford), Tom Fleming (Kerry South), Mattie McGrath (Tipperary South) and Thomas Pringle (Donegal South West) addressed their colleagues, outlining why they should get the vacant place.

Halligan and Fleming were eliminated after the first count. After the second round of voting, Pringle was declared the winner by one vote.

Deputies Catherine Murphy and Maureen O’Sullivan acted as tellers.

The group’s meeting was described as “workmanlike”.

Afterwards, they repaired to the restaurant for dinner. Mick Wallace, who owns a number of (very nice) Italian restaurants, brought along the wine so the deputies only had to pay corkage.

Guests attending a wedding reception recognised some of the deputies when they went to the bar. Apparently “the women went mad for Wallace and Ming”.

Outside in the smoking area, another group of women mistook Finian McGrath for Marty Whelan and were absolutely delighted to meet him.

Mattie McGrath went down a storm inside at the wedding, performing a set dance for the groom (from Brazil).

The Pringle/Ross tag team will change by the end of the year when the group shuffles the Leaders’ Questions pack again. Deputy Ross is unlikely to get another free pass. This will open the door to the likes of Mattie, or Stephen Donnelly.

“All three designated speakers can’t be lefties,” explains our source.

Meanwhile, the United Left Alliance has still to make a decision on who will represent them, er, going forward. Joe Higgins is the firebrand in residence, and happy to stay there, but we hear Joan Collins and Richard Boyd-Barrett are eyeing the prize.