That’s another fine mess you have gotten us into, Deputy Gogarty!
Fresh from his potty-mouth outburst in the Dail when he shouted ‘F**k you Deputy Stagg, f**k you’ to Labour’s Emmet Stagg, the lyrical loose canon of the Green Party has gotten everyone thinking - about political insults!
Did nobody ever tell young Go-Go Gogarty that the Greens have always endorsed a ban on ‘stagg’ hunting?!
Well anyway - just what constitutes ‘unparliamentary language’ in our corridors of power?
Well it seems the rules and regulations come from the dark ages when it was a gross insult to refer to someone as a ‘corner boy’ or ‘guttersnipe’.
In fact, the infamous f-word much loved by Go-Go Gogarty isn’t even listed - nor or many other colourful and often used swear words.
One banned phrase that did baffle this column for some time was ‘handbagging’. Just what is so insulting about that, I thought until such time as I had done some research on it.
There is a crude meaning - which I will not go into - but apparently the rule dates back to 1992 when the then Transport Minister and Current EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn took exception to Fine Gael’s Austin Currie describing her style of negotiation with Aer Lingus as ‘handbagging’.
Geoghegan-Quinn claimed the term was insulting to her.
The phrase has its political origins during the reign of Maggie Thatcher as Prime Minister in the UK.
It became a technical term of asserting oneself, if not literally whacking one’s opponents.
It was most famously used when Mrs Thatcher reportedly banged her hands on the table in a European summit demanding that the UK be given a rebate on its contributions.
On that occasion, the handbagging worked and Maggie got her way.
I think we could do with a bit more handbagging in the corridors of power!
Ho-Ho-Holy God - not only is David Norris a shining light of our Seanad, he is now moonlighting as Santa Claus!
Always game for a laugh, David Norris put on the big red suit this week to impersonate the great man who will be arriving to homes across the country - including the many homes of politicians - on December 25.
And the occasion that led David to take off his waistcoat and pocket watch in return for a Santa suit was to promote the World Vision Community Gift Catalogue.
If David Norris is Santa, does that make Brian Lenihan the Grinch who stole Christmas from the public sector workers??
After yesterday’s budget, is there really any more ways to tighten our belts?
Fine Gael Senator Nicky McFadden is certain that there are and - in common with the budget - it involves the loss of a few pounds.
Nicky is one of the 15 politicians who are taking part in RTE’s Operation Transformation programme in the New Year and is looking on the opportunity as a way to turn her unhealthy lifestyle around.
“I am really energized about taking part in this season’s Operation Transformation as my family history dictates that I either do something about my lifestyle choices now or I may not be lucky enough to live to regret it later,” she said.
She admits that as a member of the Oireachtas, her lifestyle is extremely erratic - ‘with long days and late nights resulting in grabbing snacks on the run, eating late into the night and getting little or no exercise during midweek’.
Nicky’s own mother died from heart related problems at the young age of 59 as did her mother before her.
“I am adamant not to let the same thing happen to me,” she said.
“I have high blood pressure which I take medication to control and feel that if I was in slightly better shape it would go a long way to enhancing my quality of life and ultimately my longevity. “
“My dad also suffered a stroke ten years ago, so my family history is screaming at me to take stock of how things are now if I want to live to the ripe old age which I do.”
This column will be following the progress of the 15 politicians and wishes them the best of luck!
The former American Ambassador to Ireland - Tom Foley - is on the run again!! This time for the title of Governor of Connecticut in 2010.
Foley was a popular Ambassador in diplomatic circles when he was in Dublin and did great work in ensuring the American role in the Irish peace process was kept visible.
Foley had originally decided to run for the US Senate seat currently held by Chris Dodd, but that race has turned very tough.
Instead, Foley - who was a major fundraiser for former US President George W Bush - will now run for governor after incumbent Republican Jodi Rell announced she would not be seeking reelection.
And the reaction from the American public has been excellent.
"Last week, I announced that I was looking at the race for Governor. Since then, I have had hundreds of e-mails from supporters and have spoken to over one hundred people - including many who are currently serving in our state government.”
"They have overwhelmingly encouraged me to run for Governor,” he said.
It is amazing what some Fianna Fail senators can achieve - Cecilia Keaveney has managed to get Vodafone to drop the word ‘Ireland’ in its roaming message!!
Currently when people on the Vodafone UK network cross over the border from the North into the Republic, they automatically receive a message from Vodafone saying ‘Welcome to Ireland. Calls cost ....etc’.
Celilia’s attention was brought to this message by a number of people because they were offended by it.
“They felt that they had never left Ireland,” she said.
So Cecilia put on her politician’s hat and had it out with Vodafone and - guess what - she succeeded.
Technicians are currently updating the message sent to customers which will read ‘You are now roaming and costs are as follows.....’.
“This is a much more satisfactory approach in this era of cross border co-operation,” she said.
It mightn’t actually seem like the season of goodwill to all men and women, but it appears that Christmas has come to the corridors of power.
Yesterday, newly crowned Ceann Comhairle ‘Captain’ Seamus Kirk was joined by party leaders and the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Pat Moylan, for the official switching on of the Oireachtas Christmas Tree lights.
This is an annual event and is the one time that you will be guaranteed to see all political parties smiling and laughing along with each other.
It is, in the words of Captain Kirk himself, a time ‘when members of the Oireachtas from all sides get together in order to celebrate the festive season and enables people to commemorate and look forward to the Christmas period’.
But it seems that Sinn Fein have a different view - they used the festive tradition of carol singing to highlight their campaign to have the Christmas bonus reinstated.
The Sinn Fein crooners gathered outside Leinster House on Tuesday to raise their voices to demand the reversal of long term social welfare payments.
Campaigners sang a reworking of ‘Jingle Bells’ demanding the restoration of the bonus.
There was, however, much disappointment that party president Gerry ‘Santa Claus’ Adams wasn’t there - a bad dose of the flu (not of the piggy variety) was to blame.
One is the most powerful woman in New York and whose name is being spoken about in terms of the presidency in the future.
The other is one of the most powerful men in Ireland whose name is also being spoken about in terms of another big job in the future.
And yesterday, the two met up in Dublin when Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin welcomed the Speaker of New York Christine Quinn to Leinster House.
Her visit to Leinster House was to talk with Minister Martin about supporting the Irish community in New York.
Quinn is listed as one of the five most powerful women in the States and is regarded as a key ally for the Irish community in the Big Apple.
Quinn and Minister Martin jointly launched a new helpline to support older members of the community last year to combat loneliness and isolation.
She was also named as Irish-American of the year in 2008.
Yesterday they discussed how the city of New York and the Government here can co-operate in a wide range of areas such as helping those who have fallen on hard times, supporting Irish cultural events and promoting the GAA.
Micheal Martin also used the opportunity to brief the Speaker on current developments in Northern Ireland.
Christine Quinn, whose name has been mentioned as a possible future candidate for the White House, spent the morning in Dublin before travelling to Belfast.
Staying with events of a Foreign Affairs nature, it seems that the Morans of Uruguay are coming home!
Our strong links with South America were to the fore at this week’s Cabinet meeting when one Nestor Moran was approved as the new Ambassador from Uruguay.
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin told colleagues that Nestor Julio Moreira Moran is taking up the post as ‘Ambassador of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay to Ireland’ to give him his proper title.
The Ambassador comes with strong credentials after serving in a range of posts across Europe.
Over 700,000 people in Uruguay and Argentina claim Irish heritage.
The region has strong links with Wexford and the Midlands – with settlers, ranchers, soldiers and missionaries travelling to both countries for decades.
Ambassador Moran is also accredited to Britain and is based in London,.
It remains to be seen if he will try to trace any Irish roots when he visits to present credentials to President Mary McAleese.
The countdown to the most feared budget in the history of the State has well and truly begun and here starts the rumour and speculation as to what Brian ‘The Knife’ Lenihan will do.
Bookie Paddy Power has ponied up some odds for those of you who like to have a little flutter on such speculation - and he feels it is going to be a ‘Robin Hood’ budget on December 9.
And if Paddy’s odds turn out to be correct, it signals bad news for Ireland’s elite!
Paddy Power are quoting 1/10 that child benefit will be reduced for parents earning €100,000 plus per annum, and just 5/2 that one or more of the income levies will be increased for people earning €100,000 upwards.
As far as tax and PRSI are concerned, Paddy Power are betting 3/1 that a third rate of income tax will be introduced for people earning over €100,000.
Another area that could be hit in this year’s budget could be ‘Trophy Houses’.
It’s 2/1 that Taoiseach Brian Cowen introduces a special tax on people who own trophy houses – that’s any house worth more than €1million.
It’s still unclear what lies in store for the public sector but it’s 10/1 that the top public sector salary gets reduced to €150,000 or less per annum.
Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: “If the Taoiseach plays his cards right Budget 2009 could be an opportunity for him to change from the Sheriff of Nottingham to Robin Hood!”
The young ones are at it again - the annual Ogra Fianna Fail Youth Conference will take place this weekend at the Great Northern Hotel in Bundoran.
And the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Renewal’.
Among the guest speakers will be CEO of the Road Safety Authority Noel Brett and Dragon’s Den star Sean Gallagher, who himself was a member of Ogra in his youth.
One of the plenary sessions at the conference will be dedicated to job creation and will include panel speakers representing growth sectors which the Government is targeting for future jobs creation in the smart economy.
Among the political heavyweights who will be attending the bash include Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, MEP Pat The Cope Gallagher as well as a number of Fianna Fail senior and junior ministers as well as Senators.
First it was George Lee doing a bit of moonlighting by presenting an RTE special on the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Now his party colleague Jimmy Deenihan is set to pen a new book on the golden years of Kerry football.
And nobody in the Dail is more qualified to write such a book than one of the finest corner-backs the game of football has ever seen - Deenihan himself.
Jimmy will draw on his memories of one of the greatest periods in the Kingdom’s footballing story - including the four-in-a-row high between 1978 and 1981.
It is hoped that the book will be published in the first half of the New Year and proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to pay off the remaining debt of the Lartigue Monorail revival in Listowel - a project close to Deenihan’s heart.
A Cabinet meeting in a rat-infested classroom to highlight the problems in education? Or how about the weekly top brass gathering on hospital trolleys to bring attention to the ailing health service?
Maybe our Ministers could hold their weekly meeting of minds on the queue for food parcels outside the Capuchin Friary on Dublin’s Church Street to let people know about the new poor of Ireland?
Sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? Well when it comes to other Governments around the globe, they have no problem changing the location of their cabinet meetings to highlight problems.
Take the Nepalese Government, for example. They will be holding a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest later this month to highlight climate change in the world.
The entire cabinet of the 22-party coalition will move to the Everest base camp at an altitude of 17,585 feet for the landmark meeting.
The decision by the Nepalese cabinet to decamp from their cosy offices to Everest base camp comes just weeks after the government of the Maldives held an underwater cabinet meeting - YES, you read that right - to focus global attention on rising sea levels ahead of a key UN summit in December.
So if our Government want to highlight the conditions of schools in Ireland, I’m sure the INTO would be able to come up with a few choice locations for them where they could meet the local rats and mice that inhabit the school buildings on a frequent basis?
Or there are bound to be plenty of people who have been forced to endure long waits on hospital trolleys waiting for admission who would be honoured to point the way for the politicians.
But it seems that when our cabinet moves from the cosy confines of government buildings, they have more luxurious venues in mind - think back to the stately Emo Court outside Portlaoise in 2003 or Avondale House in Co Wicklow in 2006.
Don’t be fooled by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s dark eyes or the fact that he seems to have no problem lurking through the corridors of power in the dead of night getting NAMA bills passed.
Brian is no vampire and his eating habits prove this!
It seems economist David McWilliam’s new book is a book of contradictions (everybody seems to be contradicting his version of events) but one nugget that stuck in our minds from it was the fact that Brian Lenihan is a huge fan of garlic - RAW garlic!
Just as easily as someone would pull an apple out of their pocket and bite into it, Brian will take whole cloves of garlic into his mouth and munch away to his hearts’ content.
Well his heart must be very content with this unusual eating habit as raw garlic is known for its health benefits - lowering blood pressure, reducing high cholesterol, regulating blood sugar and reducing bacterial infections.
But it also has another very handy benefit which Brian Lenihan obviously finds useful for dealing with pesky TDs/union bosses/bankrupt developers - raw garlic is great for getting rid of intestinal parasites and worms!!
And so RTE’s Operation Transformation is making a bee-line for tubby TDs and mountainy ministers.
Our politicians have been telling us to tighten our belts for ages now, so it will be comforting to know that after losing a few pounds, the politicians themselves will be able to tighten their own belts.
Needless to say, the letter from the producers of Operation Transformation was received with much hilarity by some TDs, who have now made slagging each other off a bit of a national pastime inside the corridors of power.
But our lips are sealed on the identity of the Minister who, on receipt of the letter, laughed and said: “If they could come up with a way of getting me to put on some weight, I would be in.”
Spoilsport - that’s what I say to the boring UK politician who has tabled a motion to ban ‘crackberries’ during meetings.
Liberal Democrat John Pugh has been so driven to despair by the sight of colleagues tapping away on their Blackberries/Crackberries and iPhone smartphones that he wants them banned altogether.
He said that ‘while recognising the enormous benefits of the modern smartphone’, he regrets the ‘tendency of Honourable Members to interact with these devices during select committee meetings and short debates’.
Any visitor to the public gallery in the Dail chamber will see - from time to tome - our trusty TDs tapping away on such phones.
It may be to simply check their emails or to text staffers of their needs.
But one TD stands head and shoulders above the others when it comes to using smartphones for the public good - Green TD Ciaran Cuffe.
Ciaran has become not only a serial blogger but a serial ‘tweeter’ as well and on the odd occasion, he has been known to ‘tweet’ from the Dail chamber.
Some luddites may think that this is a thundering disgrace but we disagree.
In this age of new technology, it is refreshing to get the opinions - albeit brief with Twitter - of a TD who is actually sitting in the chamber.
And when he is not ‘tweeting’ from the Chamber, he is ‘tweeting’ from either his office or when he is out and about letting people know what he is up to.
So keep up the good work Ciaran - this column is following you as are almost 700 other twitterers!
Writing cheques they simply can’t cash - that is the view of the Government by Fine Gael’s Lucinda Creighton.
No - the Government hasn’t started it own cheque kiting racket, but its costings in relation to the new Programme for Government would keep a mathematician on their toes.
Part of the new PfG is the addition of 500 new teaching posts over the next three years.
Lucinda posed a question to Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe as to how much these 500 extra teachers would cost and was told - plainly and simply - that he didn’t know!
Naturally enough, Lucinda was left puzzled - as were the rest of us.
“Less than two months before the budget, Fianna Fail and the Greens are signing up for commitments that they haven’t even costed,” she said.
The estimated cost of the plan is in the region of €32m a year.
But as Lucinda says, ‘at a time when the Government desperately needs to cut the public sector wage bill, it is ridiculous and dishonest to be making uncosted commitments in response to unrealistic demands’.
When it comes to campaigning politics, you can’t get more campaigning that Labour’s Joe Costello.
It has been a labour of love for him but there is no sign of him giving up on his weekly protest outside the Mater Hospital to highlight the continuing A&E crisis there.
While most politicians may be enjoying a lie in on a Saturday morning or engaging in cushy clinics with their constituents, Joe heads along to the Mater EVERY Saturday morning to highlight the overcrowding at the hospital.
“The A&E crisis must be tackled but this cannot be done without adequate community care and step down facilities, so that we can be sure that acute beds are being used by those who need them most,” he said.
A lot of his political colleagues could learn a valuable and humbling lesson from Gentleman Joe.
Labour’s Joan Burton has become the latest TD to publish her own expenses on her website in the wake over the scandal over TDs expenses.
And it seems that Joan had little to worry about - her expenses for the past few years have actually being falling faster than John O’Donoghue can say ‘another champagne please’!
In 2005, Burton claimed a total of €26,114.31 on top of her salary of €88,763.21.
This €26,000 was made up of her constituency travel allowance, her miscellaneous expense allowance, travel and subsistence and her telephone allowance.
In the league table that year for politicians, Joan was at 133 out of 166 - towards the more frugal end of the class.
Her expenses rose slightly in 2006 to €29,343.78, placing her at number 126 in the league table of her peers.
But since 2006, her expenses have been falling - €27,966 in 2007; €22,697 in 2008 and €17,317 for the first six months of 2009.
Regarding her foreign travel - the cost of which was footed by the taxpayer - she took a relatively frugal approach to that as well.
A three-day trip to Edinburgh in 2007 for a Public Accounts Committee meeting with their Scottish counterparts cost us €736 for Joan’s fare and board and a three-day trip to Newcastle in 2008 for a plenary conference cost the taxpayer just €133.82.
The only lavish trip was to Washington in 2008 when Joan, along with members of the Joint Committee on Finance and Public Service went on a fact finding mission to examine financial issues including the volatility of financial markets and the sub-prime lending crisis.
Five TDs and one official went on this trip.
Joan stayed in Jury’s Hotel at a total cost of €866 for the six night stay. Her flight, however, came in at a hefty €3,279.
Ivor ‘The Engine’ Callely is certainly not backward in coming forward and now it appears he is trying to take some of the credit for the release of GOAL worker Sharon Commins!
In a press release sent from the dungeons in the Seanad, Ivor welcomed the release of the Clontarf woman - wasting no time in telling the world that he had been in regular contact with the Sudanese Ambassador on the matter.
“I spoke to the Sudanese Ambassador on a number of occasions with my concerns of Sharon’s abduction and he assured me that it was being treated very seriously and they were doing all they could,” he said.
For Ivor-watchers everywhere, this latest claim should not come as any major surprise.
It wasn’t long ago that he told his constituents that he would ‘keep a close eye on Burma’ at a time when the military junta there faced down everyone from the UN to the US.
I’m sure the military junta were cowering in fear when Ivor proclaimed: “I will continue to closely monito
Michael Healy-Rae has been kidnapped by members of ‘Ireland’s Extreme Scarehouse’and Defence Minister Willie O’Dea and Green Senator Dan Boyle are next on the list.
The Independent Cllr was kidnapped in broad daylight outside the offices of Kerry County Council in Tralee and bundled into a black hearse by some of the ugliest creatures ever seen in the Kingdom.
In what might come as some good news to the John O’Donoghue camp in South Kerry, the young Healy-Rae is being kept at an undisclosed location where his only contact with the outside world has been a brief video message from his captors.
The group claiming responsibility for the kidnapping call themselves the Nightmare Realm and their list of demands to secure his release are simple.
While tied up and with a gun to his head, the video – which can be viewed on YouTube – shows Healy-Rae pleading for his life and liberty as he discloses what the demands are.
“The Nightmare Realm has asked me to read out their list of demands and this is what they want,” the terrified Kilgarvan man said.
“Five inflatable pink rubber ducks, bring back the happy hour in all pubs, abolish student college rates, five packs of 2H pencils and a pencil sharpener, a blank cheque for expenses for every TD, three Hawaiian pizzas and three litres of Coke, a party in the Playboy Mansion and, finally, abolish all caps like the one I am wearing.”
“If this list of demands is not met by midnight, they will kidnap a politician every two hours starting next with Limerick’s Willie O’Dea and Cork’s Dan Boyle.”
“So can I plead with somebody, please help and sort out this list of demands,” he was last heard wailing.
We are sorry to break the bad news to you, but this kidnapping was merely just a very clever stunt by the Nightmare Realm to publicise their Halloween freak show in Tralee.
But they shouldn’t be putting ideas into people’s heads!!
She hasn’t gone away, you know – former Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications Maire Geoghegan-Quinn is fast climbing up in the bookies favour to become Ireland’s next EU Commissioner.
She is now 9/2 second-favourite to succeed Charlie McCreevy in Brussels.
The Galway native, who now lives in Luxembourg, had been 7/1 with Paddy Power but a sustained gamble over the weekend saw her odds slashed to 9/2.
Pat Cox remains the even-money favourite with Pat “the Cope” Gallagher sharing second favouritism with Geoghegan-Quinn.
“Some very shrewd punters filled their boots with the 7/1 on offer on Maire Geoghegan-Quinn over the weekend and have left us with a payout in excess of €5,000 should she get the nod,” Paddy Power told this blog.
It seems that not even a young fella with a few cans of Bulmers on board can stop the unflappable political oracle of RTE, David Davin Power.
The veteran Pol Corr - known to all as DDP - is a familiar face in the sitting rooms of Ireland as he analyses and dissects the news of the day from Leinster House.
But the real test of his expertise lies in how he can deal with interruptions while reporting live on TV.
First of all there was that hilarious incident at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis earlier this year when he was surrounded by what looked like a group of zombies as he reported live on the 9pm news.
That has become an unlikely hit on YouTube with over 45,000 hits so far.
In fact, a new version of this has appeared on YouTube with a voice over by legendary Top of the Pops presenter Noel Edmonds and a cameo appearance by Status Quo!
But the latest zombie to dare to interrupt DDP was a hapless young fella laden down with cans of Bulmers live on Monday night’s news.
As DDP was reporting on the latest travails of John O’Donoghue during a questions and answers segment with news anchor Eileen Dunne, along came the young fan and raised his can of Bulmers to the nation.
“How’zt goin’?” the young fella said to a slightly bemused looking DDP.
But the oracle was not for flapping - “There you go”, he said to the young fella as he wandered off into the sunset with his arms laden with cans of booze.
“Just carry on there Eileen, sorry about that slight interruption,” he said as he continued with his report.
The incident created quite a few laughs, with Green TD Ciaran Cuffe even tweeting about it to the world.
“I had the sound on mute, but DDP appeared to play a blinder there,” Cuffe tweeted.
Well for those who didn’t see it, the RTE Political Oracle certainly did play a blinder!
For Bertie lovers everywhere, the long-awaited ‘buke’ is now on the shelves and tonight (THURS) EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy will launch it at a gathering of over 400 people in the Mansion House.
The former Taoiseach told this column that he is ‘neither an historian or an academic’ but is proud of the ‘buke’ and admitted that he did indeed get some tips from his bestselling-author daughter Cecelia.
Many in the past have accused Bertie of sitting on the fence when it comes to making decisions, so it will come as no surprise to learn that when he signed the contract to pen his autobiography - the publishers couldn’t pin him down to a deadline.
But Bertie plodded away in the background and it was only when he broke his ankle last year in a fall that he actually found himself with plenty of time to do nothing but write!
And so the ‘buke’ is here - earlier than expected - and it is a mighty entertaining read.
It may not be the political anorak’s idea of a political memoir but Bertie has made it a ‘buke’ that is accessible to all and should have a wide audience.
It seems that the talents of the daughter have been passed on to the father!
As Nancy Sinatra (or Jessica Simpson, depending on your age!) sang so well - ‘these boots are made for walking’ and in the case of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, they certainly were.
Nobody could accuse the Fine Gael leader of being any kind of slouch in the run up to the Lisbon referendum.
In fact, Fine Gael are quick to point out that its national campaign has seen Enda embark on a 20 day countrywide tour that covered 6,000 kilometres, taking in 120 canvassing stops in a drive to secure a Yes vote.
And if that wasn’t enough, the party goes on to tell us that over 5,000 people have attended 43 Fine Gael meetings discussing the Treaty.
Over one million pieces of Lisbon literature have been distributed by Fine Gael.
Well it didn’t take long for some of the political wags to come up with their own version of how to fix Ireland’s economy.
The Internet is awash this week with a simple letter, purporting to be from the people of Ireland, to Taoiseach Brian Cowen with a few very novel ways of getting our finances back on track.
It goes something like this:
“Instead of giving €7bn to the Irish banks who will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan – you can call it the Republic Retirement Plan
“There are about one million people over the age of 50 in the work force. Pay them €7m apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
* they MUST retire – one million job openings, unemployment fixed! * they MUST buy a new car – one million cars ordered, auto industry fixed! * they MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – housing crisis fixed! * They MUST send their kids to school/college/university – crime rate fixed! * they MUST buy €100 of alcohol/tobacco a week – and there is your money back in duty/tax.”
We can laugh – but it makes more sense than some of the plans out there!
Once Lisbon is over and done with, the task will move on to who will replace Charlie McCreevy as Ireland’s Commissioner (if Lisbon is passed, that is!)
Champagne Charlie will retire from his gravy-train post at the end of this year and it is in Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s gift as to who his successor will be.
Given that the Government’s numbers in the Dail are getting tighter by the day, it is highly unlikely that he will send one of his loyal Dail foot soldiers over to take the job.
So who will get it?
Well the money seems to be on the two front-runners – former MEP Eoin Ryan and former EU Parliament President Pat Cox.
Bookies Paddy Power has reported significant interest in Ryan, who lost his seat in June’s local elections.
The 53-year-old Dubliner has been the subject of a sustained gamble which has seen his odds tumble from 7/1 to 7/2 second-favourite.
Pat Cox remains favourite but has eased slightly in Paddy Power’s betting from 11/10 to 5/4.
“According to the betting, it is all over bar the shouting for Lisbon and the shrewd punters have turned their attention to Charlie McCreevy’s successor with Eoin Ryan looking like the one to watch,” Power said.
Other names in the pot include Alan Dukes, Mary Harney, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Dan Boyle, Dermot Ahern, Martin Cullen and even Bertie Ahern!
Our Government politicians will be out in force this weekend as Farmleigh plays host to the much-anticipated ‘Irish Davos’ - the first ever Global Irish Economic Forum.
While there will be much posturing and many pronouncements made, it seems that Ireland’s attempts at hosting a heavy-weight Economic Forum is on line to be a significant success.
More than 140 journalists from Irish, British, European, US and Japanese media outlets have been registered to cover the event.
Hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the event will be attended by 180 members of the global Irish business community, the Cabinet and members of the opposition.
So interested is the media in the event that a special media centre has been set up in Farmleigh with broadcasters from not only the Irish stations but CNN, Bloomberg and Reuters covering the event as well.
As he is the host of the event, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin has become a familiar face on CNN and Bloomberg news bulletins - normally the traditional home of figures such as President Barack Obama.
And it isn’t just business and political heavyweights who will be attending the Forum - the Irish in Hollywood will also be there with the presence of movie director Neil Jordan.
And just in case we think that this is yet another lavish gesture that the taxpayers will be footing the bill for - we are not as all those attending are funding their own travel arrangements for the weekend.
Moderators of the events will include CNN’s Fionnuala Sweeney (who once hosted the Eurovision in Ireland), Fergal Keane of the BBC, economist David McWilliams and RTE legend John Bowman.
So John O’Donoghue is remaining tight-lipped about his lavish expenses while Minister for Fun! How times have changed.
It wasn’t that long ago when, as a member of Kerry County Council, John was more than vocal of his criticism of another Kerry politician’s ‘lavish excess’.
When Dick Spring - as Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs - travelled to New York in the 1990s and opted to stay in the plush Waldorf Astoria rather than the Irish-owned Fitzpatrick’s Hotel - John couldn’t contain himself.
On several occasions in the Council chamber, John took a pop at Spring - who was once referred to by Willie O’Dea as ‘The Bollinger Bolshevick’ - for his decision to stay in the Waldorf as opposed to Fitzpatricks.
John was always good on the attack - ask poor Nora Owen who was often the subject of his maulings. She still has the scars to prove it!
But now that John has the office, cloak and chain of the Ceann Comhairle to hide behind, it seems the Biting Bulldog has turned into a Pampered Pooch.
We have had ‘De Little Book of Bertie’ and now author Will Hanafin gives is his ‘Credit Crunchies’ - an hilarious collection of REAL quotes made by some of top politicians and bankers.
And some of them are right clangers!
Like Brian Cowen’s plans to get the economy back on track - ‘Taking some steps back so we can go forward again’.
And his plan for some decisive action - ‘To identify the problem that is there and park it somewhere else so we can deal with it over a longer period’!
There are also some gems from the bankers who have become notorious over the past 12 months, such as that by disgraced former Anglo chief Sean Fitzpatrick.
“It is well known that I take a fair bit of time off during the year. But I think it is a fair return for the very long hours that I put in.... and for the loneliness and pressure of continuing to overachieve.”
Or what about Sean’s infamous interview with Marian Finucane after the bank guarantee scheme was introduced: “I can’t say sorry with any degree of sincerity and decency but I do say thank you.”!