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Abs fab on the canvass as Richard Bruton goes topless to attract votes

Could Fine Gael be exploiting the most famous nipples in Dublin Bay North to deliver a seat in Europe and local elections?

Richard Bruton on a boat in Howth Harbour to explain the new pay-related Jobseeker’s Benefit

We see Richard Bruton is getting his abs out again.

Not since politician and former porn star Cicciolina’s election to the Italian parliament in 1987 has a legislator been so brazen about showing off their assets.

Of course, it’s a story as old as the hills. Lovely Richard is being used by people who want to exploit his six-pack for electoral profit.

Fine Gael is making him go topless. Again and again and again.


The political party Richard has served for decades believes that the most famous nipples in Dublin Bay North will help deliver a seat in Europe and the local elections.

This particular Blueshirt is more value to them when he’s a No Shirt.

Drumcondra’s answer to Jacques Cousteau went to Howth harbour this week with candidate Regina Doherty and disrobed “on a BOAT to explain the new pay-related Jobseeker’s Benefit” by putting on a life vest and jumping into the sea.

Which makes total sense.

“This video is abs-solutely fabulous,” tweeted former taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“Fair play,” tweeted former minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney, who is a keen sailor.

On the same day, 71-year-old Bruton tackled a towering rock climbing wall while talking about the nitty-gritty of Jobseeker’s Benefit, which Regina “worked on” while minister for social protection.

Unusually, he kept his shirt and trousers on this time. Salivating Fine Gael handlers strapped a safety harness around his nether regions instead.

Here are some more videos to watch out for in the run-up to polling day on Friday.

Monday: Richard emerges from the pond in St Stephen’s Green, dripping wet with a barely buttoned shirt clinging to his heaving pecs and strides across to Iveagh House to explain the triple lock to outgoing MEP Maria Walsh.

Tuesday: Richard strips off in Thomond Park to explain the failing-to-roll-away law and the latest sports capital grants to Limerick mayoral candidate Daniel Butler.

Wednesday: Richard mud-wrestles outgoing MEP Seán Kelly around the Ring of Kerry while explaining how Fine Gael is stimulating the economy. Parental discretion advised. #NSFW

Thursday: Richard gallops bareback and bare-chested around Fairyhouse to explain the latest supports for small and medium-sized businesses before candidate Nina Carberry flings a bucket of water over his biceps and slips him a sugar lump.

Friday: Richard snorkels in a pool of tepid minestrone while Heather Humphreys batters him with a soup ladle and explains her expanded free school meals scheme to local election candidates from Monaghan.

Saturday: Richard watches the count from his hospital bed.

Shinner slump

Obviously, all eyes in Leinster House are on the election.

The general election.

Will Simon do a Rishi and make a run for the country?

If results in the locals and Europeans trend the same way as the opinion polls, the Government will be under heavy pressure from within to take swift advantage of a Sinn Féin slump.

Fine Gael activists are reporting favourable reaction on the doorsteps to their new leader’s open and energetic approach and are attributing a small increase in popularity figures to the Harris effect.

They know that honeymoons don’t last forever.

Which is why talk of a snap election is everywhere now.

But for now, it’s a case of wait and see.

“If Sinn Féin continues to slide, it’s a no-brainer,” a Government backbencher told us on Thursday. “But will Simon bottle it?”

An awful lot rests on next Saturday’s results.

Anxious days ahead for all sides.

Puppet show

The outright winners of Row of the Week in Dáil Éireann are Fianna Fáil junior minister Sean Fleming and the three members of People Before Profit he insulted by calling them Putin’s Puppets.

Bríd Smith, one of the injured parties, tells us she has been getting messages of support from voters since the noisy set-to forced acting chair Michael Ring to suspend the sitting.

In time-honoured tradition, the PBP candidate for Dublin reports “we’re getting a great reception on the doors” while noting “women of my generation in particular are always interested in having a talk”.

Sure none of us is getting any younger.

“We were out canvassing and crossing over Butt Bridge from Tara Street station on Thursday when a man spotted us and came over. He said: ‘That fella who called you a Putin puppet is a total muppet.’”

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy is seen during a row in the Dáil following comments made by Minister of State Seán Fleming. Photograph: Oireachtas
Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith and Paul Murphy during a row in the Dáil following comments made by Minister of State Seán Fleming. Photograph: Oireachtas

The Dublin South Central TD, who announced she would not be running again for the Dáil and was promptly prevailed upon by colleagues to run for Europe, has emerged as a front-runner among the candidates from the left.

On the short trip from Tara Street station to Connolly station she stopped off for a photo at the Connolly memorial with her canvassing team, which includes some migrant workers who have been here for years.

Using a very long pole, Bríd held up a speech bubble to Connolly’s mouth. It said: “I was a migrant worker.”

This was “to highlight the contradictions of anti-migrant sentiment when one of Ireland’s greatest patriots was James Connolly, a migrant worker from Scotland, and when we rely on migrant workers in health, hospitality, services and transport”.

She says migration has emerged as one of the key issues in the European elections.

“I believe we should view migration as a challenge but also as a positive. We could not run this country without migration – with every hungry belly comes a pair of hands and a brain.”

‘Puppets of Putin’: Dáil suspended amid heated row over junior minister’s commentsOpens in new window ]

Meanwhile, just as People Before Profit were getting over the Dáil contretemps with Sean Fleming, Bríd flagged another big bone of contention which came to light on Friday morning.

Her colleague Paul Murphy was directed to the elegant Blue Room inside the Merrion Street entrance to Leinster House – it’s where VIPs are greeted when they visit – and the row of four flags in front of the ornamental fireplace.

He saw the Irish tricolour to his left and the UN flag to his right but was outraged to see an Israeli flag next to the Palestinian flag, which flew outside Leinster House for the first time on Tuesday when Ireland recognised the State of Palestine.

“We’ve written to the Ceann Comhairle asking him to explain how he can justify flying the Israeli flag when this is a genocide and has been called out by the international courts as such,” said Bríd.

After the emotional statements in the Dáil on Tuesday, that placement may seem somewhat odd, but the Government has been strong in its commitment to seeking a two-state situation and will doubtless view the arrangement as a diplomatic expression of that aspiration.

Photocall security

Reports of angry people confronting candidates on the campaign trail have become a dispiriting feature of these elections, although the view in Leinster House is that the pervasive aggression and nastiness on social media is out of proportion to what they are experiencing on the ground.

Nonetheless, as has been reported in this newspaper in recent weeks, many politicians and aspiring politicians have been subjected to threats and abuse and are treading very carefully on the canvass. Depressingly, if not surprisingly, women seem to be taking the brunt of it.

But it’s not all bad.

Brian Sheehan, the CEO of Women for Election, tells us that 691 women are running in the locals – the biggest number ever.

As it stands, just a quarter of council members are women and 41 out of the 166 local electoral areas (LEAs) have no female representation at all. He says voters can check the website to see who is running in their neck of the woods.

Women candidates from all political parties at a photocall at City Hall, Dublin on May 19th. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

The organisation held a photocall outside City Hall in Dublin a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the record number of candidates in the mix this year.

“Just to be on the safe side, given the reports of harassment of some women, we decided to get some security in for the photocall even though the majority of women, the majority of times, have respectful interaction at the doors,” said Sheehan.

“I rang a company called Celtic Security, was put on to operations director Robert Doyle, who said he would get back to me. He rang back within 10 minutes and said he would be there with a colleague on the Sunday morning. They would be in black suits so as not to be obtrusive and he had spoken to the boss and they both agreed there would be no charge ‘because we all have daughters and we have to see more women in politics for their sakes and for our sakes’.

“And they turned up and wouldn’t even take a cuppa and said that anytime we needed more help they’d be very happy to provide it, free, because they believed in helping out more women into politics.

Wouldn’t that do your heart good?”

It would.

Nice one, lads.

Not dead yet

Award for typo the week goes to the Times of London for this gem at the end of its very lengthy obituary of Bruce Arnold – author, art expert, Indo political columnist and the man who, along with fellow journalist and former editor of this newspaper Geraldine Kennedy, successfully sued the State after Charlie Haughey ordered the tapping of their telephones.

“A proud Briton who never took Irish citizenship, Arnold was appointed OBE in 2003 for services to journalism and Anglo-Irish relations. At his investiture, and with typical boldness, he asked Elizabeth II: “When are you going to come to Ireland, ma’am?” She gave him just a hint of an enigmatic smile as if to say “in my own sweet time”.

He was overjoyed when she finally died in 2011.”

The online edition fixed it.

He was overjoyed when she finally did it.

This column will not be casting the first stone.

Check your head

And our award for the hottest political burn of the week goes to Saoirse McHugh, the Independent candidate for Midlands North-West.

She picked up on a message posted by the Fianna Fáil front-runner Barry Cowen, who was sacked as minister for agriculture by party leader Micheál Martin in 2020 for refusing to answer questions in the Dáil over claims he performed a “U-turn” at a Garda checkpoint as he wanted to hear the outcome of a Gsoc inquiry into the incident first.

It concluded, two years later, that he didn’t attempt to evade the police when he was stopped at a checkpoint and breathalysed on his way home to Offaly after the 2016 All-Ireland football final.

Barry’s box-ticking message was this: “Illegal immigration is a real issue and one that needs to be tackled.”

And Saoirse’s cheeky reply?

“I’m surprised at you of all people calling for checkpoints.”

Our very favourite poster comes from Peter Casey, former presidential hopeful, now standing in the very crowded arena of Midlands North-West.

There he is, looking out from his lamp-post, asking for your number one.



Says it all, really.