Permanent scar from Vincent Browne show for Fine Gael TD

Jim Daly got into an unusual spot on the late-night current affairs show

Fine Gael TD for Cork South West Jim Daly, who had a spot of good luck thanks to his doctor  who alerted him to a suspicious blemish on his face

Fine Gael TD for Cork South West Jim Daly, who had a spot of good luck thanks to his doctor who alerted him to a suspicious blemish on his face


Most politicians are happy to escape with just a minor mauling after a studio session with Vincent Browne.

One Fine Gael TD though is permanently scarred as a result of appearing on the late-night current affairs show – and for that, Jim Daly of Cork South West is extremely grateful.

In a welcome case of history repeating itself, Daly’s GP was watching him discuss the Children’s Referendum on Browne’s show when he noticed an unusual looking spot just above his cheekbone.

“Jesus, I don’t like the look of that!” he said.

The Rosscarbery-based doctor knew he was likely to run into the TD at a local function the following night and made it his business to seek him out.

“The doc came up to me and said he wasn’t happy with the look of this little thing on my face,” recalls Daly, who lives in Clonakilty. “He told me to come over to him in the surgery so he could take a proper look at it.”

That was in November and Daly got around to seeing him in December. He was packed off to Cork see a consultant.

“They did a biopsy and I was told ‘yes, it’s cancerous and it has to come off your face’.”

In the weeks coming up to his operation, Daly kept his spirits up and took to calling the spot “my little VinB.”

He was admitted to the Bons Secours at the end of February, surgery was carried out and he spent a week in hospital. The procedure was a complete success and Daly was told he would not require any follow-on treatment. He returned to the Dáil last week.

“I’d had this sort of spot on my face for a while,” says the father of four sons. “It was like a little pimple and I never really thought anything of it.”

Daly reckons he won’t forget the day of the operation either. “It was the same afternoon James Reilly got stuck in the lift. The nurses and doctors were up in arms over the Croke Park agreement and there I was – a government TD – about to go under the knife, and the last thing I saw before they put me under was a doctor on one side of the bed, a nurse on the other and a lot of sharp medical instruments.”

His lucky TV break brings to mind the case of former Fianna Fáil junior minister Conor Lenihan, who had a similar experience in 2007. A hospital consultant in Galway, while watching him on Prime Time , noticed a strange lump on his cheek and got in touch to urge him to have it checked out immediately.

Lenihan (he now works for Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg ’s Skolkovo Foundation – they met by chance in Rome when Vekselberg brought his collection of Faberge eggs for display in a Vatican museum) acted on the advice and had a tumour removed.

As for Daly, he says people should always check out unusual lumps and bumps on their skin. He admits the little pimple on his face had bled once or twice, but he ignored this. His story may have a happy ending, but he has learned his lesson. “It’s no harm to get these things checked out, it will probably be nothing but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

All roads lead away from Dáil
Extra omnes (as we say in Kildare Street and the Via della Conciliazione)!

All out!

That was the call in Leinster House as the week drew to a close – although the place wasn’t exactly heaving. Quite a few TDs appeared to have made an early exit to their bookies and/or Cheltenham, while all the parties had their troops out knocking on the doors of Meath East.

Michael Noonan is minding the place for most of the time while the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers are away. However Noonan is off to the Vatican for the installation of Pope Francis on Tuesday, so Simon Coveney will be minding the shop – as if the Minister for Agriculture doesn’t have enough on our plates at the moment.

In the light of some early reports we’ve been hearing from Meath East, it might be a good idea for Enda to delay the return of some of his travelling band of Ministers.

In particular, maybe he should consider sending James Reilly on to Coventry following his official visits to London and Birmingham, while it might be wise to find some urgent government business in Siberia for Phil Hogan after he has done his stint in Boston.

“Dog’s abuse” is how one rather rattled Fine Gael canvasser described his post-doorstep experience in the Navan area.

In the next couple of weeks, take it with a grain of salt when you hear the Coalition’s Pollyannas talking about the “positive response on the doors”. We hear Ministers Reilly and Hogan are the focus for much of the anger.

Still. At least the electorate will only have to endure a short campaign. It’s just as well.

The four main contenders were together for a brief TV3 debate on Monday night. It didn’t tell us much, apart from the depressing realisation that the people of Meath East aren’t exactly faced with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to making their choice.

Helen McEntee is the starting favourite to retain the seat for Fine Gael, but don’t bet the house on it.

Francis package tours
Belfast man Kieran Rooney was certainly quick off the mark when the great news of An Pápa Proinsias hit Argentina. Just hours into the new papacy and Kieran, who runs the very nice-looking Rooney’s Boutique Hotel in Buenos Aires, had already launched his Pope Francis Pilgrimage Package.

He promises “a fascinating insight into the milestones that marked the life of a simple and humble Jesuit priest from Buenos Aires who would surprise the world and become the first Latin American pope.”

Despite an impressively quick turnaround, it is a comprehensive programme.

You visit the birthplace of Jorge Bergoglio on the first day and take a guided tour on the second of the Jesuit seminary where he studied.

Day three has a trip to Colegio de Salvador where he taught philosophy before his ordination. The next day features a visit to the church where he sheltered “on the runs [sic]” from the military dictatorship. This includes a lecture on Argentina’s political history.

But there’s more.

The following day has a trip to the slums where he worked and pilgrims will “retrace his journey on the city’s public transport system where, at the behest of devotees, he regularly held Mass and blessings.”

The penultimate day has a trip to Lujan Cathedral outside the city. Finally, it’s off to the city’s cathedral where he celebrated Mass and a walk past the modest apartment block nearby where he lived in a modest one-bed unit.

Rooney is charging $970 to include accommodation and most meals. You’ll have to book your own flights.

Coghlan’s train of thought
Seanad whip Paul Coghlan was faced with a problem when Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope.

Fine Gael’s Coghlan, who hails from Killarney, has shown a remarkable ability during his time in the Seanad to find a Kerry connection whenever a good news story comes up for mention.

On Tuesday night in the Dáil bar some of his party colleagues challenged him to come up with a local twist to this South American tale. He managed it, just about.

During the Order of Business on Wednesday morning Coghlan joined colleagues in welcoming the appointment of Pope Francis.

Somebody piped up: “You’ve met the man?”

“No. I never met the man,” said Paul.

He continued: “His father was a railway worker, and the man who was responsible for the railways in Argentina was an Irish engineer named Coghlan.”

Paul had staked a claim to the homeplace of the new pontiff, his parents, and by extension, the man himself.