Long live the great Senator David Norris for yet again injecting colour, humour and above all, humanity into what can be an incredibly dull Seanad.
During a recent Seanad motion on human trafficking and prostitution, Senator Norris was his usual colourful, vociferous self as he regaled fellow Senators about his close encounter with a brothel.
“For a number of years, there was a brothel in the basement next to me in North Great George’s Street,” he told an eager Seanad.
“On one occasion when the woman was being beaten up, I was obliged to intervene and I protected her. I did not avail of her services but it was quite a moving experience because I encountered her as a human being and realised what was going on in that place.”
“On a Saturday evening, I often swept my step and I saw many people coming from there, some of whom were quite familiar names in Irish public life.”
“While they got a hell of a shock on seeing me, I never have disclosed a single name and never would.”
“These were professional people, some of whom were in religious professions,” he said, whetting the curiosity of many.
And he was similarly vociferous about proposals to follow the lead of Sweden, Norway and Iceland by criminalising the purchase of sex so as to target the demand for the sex exploitation industry.
“Members who have a slightly more sophisticated view of history will remember that among other things, Sweden supplied Hitler with ball bearings during the Second World War and has a serious problem with right-wing hooliganism.”
“Simply because something happens in Sweden does not mean one should automatically gollop it down uncritically,” he said.
The Common Sense Award of the week goes to Fianna Fail’s Limerick TD Niall Collins, who has called for a referendum to be held on the thorny issue of judges salaries.
This follows the controversy that only 19 judges have so far agreed to make voluntary contributions in lieu of the pension levy.
Our Constitution states that the remuneration of a judge cannot be reduced while they are in office. So that got Niall thinking.
“This group of elite untouchables should be subjected to the regular procedures administering the pay of higher civil servants,” he said.
“In the modern day, being protected by the Constitution is simply not good enough given that many thousands of people and their families are suffering falling incomes and job losses.”
“I feel with the forthcoming Lisbon 2 referendum, we have an early opportunity to address this issue through a vote of the people. Many of the working practices of the courts and the judiciary need modernising and this is now an opportune time for that,” he said.
Green Party Deputy Ciaran Cuffe has said the Greens should walk from Government – unless there is a greater delivery of his party’s policies.
The local elections may seen like a distant memory to many but around the corridors of power of Leinster House, politicos are trying to make sense of the slaughter on June 5.
None more so than that Green Party, which has become an almost extinct breed in local Government – especially in the capital.
Deputy Cuffe has been doing a fair bit of soul searching on his blog, acknowledging that it was a ‘rough’ result for the Greens and saying how it ‘hurt’ to be hit so hard within the Pale.
“We could walk away from Government, and unless there is greater deliver of Green Party policies, particularly in areas of responsibility that don’t fall directly under out control, I think we should,” he said.
“People were mad as hell about the wasted opportunities of the boom years and while Fianna Fail were taking the brunt of it kick, we were also a target.”
Cuffe believes that the failure to publish the Civil Unions legislation before the Local and European elections ‘definitely cost us votes’.
TDs and Senators are preparing to dig their walking shoes out of the wardrobe and hit the beat again - all in the name of charity and not electioneering!
This Sunday sees the second annual Oireachtas Hill Walk taking place in Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s back yard - the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Co Offaly.
This year’s charity of choice is the Irish Heart Foundation and our energetic TDs and Senators will be hoping to top the €6,000 they raised last year for Autism Ireland.
Ringleader-in-chief of the Oireachtas crew is none other than multi-All-Ireland-medal-winning Jimmy Deenihan - still one of the fittest men in Leinster House.
Jimmy has become the fitness tzar in Leinster House, organising soccer, GAA and hurling matches among Oireachtas members.
Joining Jimmy this year on his mountain walk will be Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, Senator Ivana Bacik and Deputies Ciaran Cuffe, Chris Andrews and Liz McManus.
And it won’t be an easy afternoon out for our politicians - they will be professionally guided along a 15 km trek!
Tzar Deenihan said the money raised through this walk will be ploughed into the Irish Heart Foundation’s CPR programme for schools.
“A walk through the Slieve Bloom mountains is relatively easy. It wouldn’t be as hard as the MacGillycuddy Reeks. It will be an all-party exercise - there are representatives from all parties both in the Dail and the Seanad taking part,” he said
As the sponsored trek will take place in Brian Cowen’s backyard, he has been asked to officiate at the starting of the walk but a busy schedule on the day may prevent him from actually taking part in the walk.
Speaking of his fellow politicians, Tzar Deenihan said their fitness levels are ‘reasonably good’ but he said he would like to see more of them using the Oireachtas gym to fine tune their fitness.
“TDs and Senators, because of their heavy schedules, find it hard to find the time to use the gym. The gym has basic equipment but enough for good cardio training and weight training,” he said.
Masterly Media Presence? Laugh Cry Moan? Beware Chaos Inaction? Who on earth could I be talking about?
It has been a quiet week on the Corridors of Power but that hasn’t stopped some keen politics watchers from using their down time to put a smile on the face of many a gloomy Government backbencher.
Our pals over at Politics.ie have been using their time constructively and have come up with some very apt - and hilarious - anagrams for our politicians.
Masterly Media Presence is a very appropriate anagram for President Mary McAleese while Mary Coughlan might no be too chuffed with hers - Laugh Cry Moan!
Taoiseach Brian Cowen translates into Beware Chaos Inaction and Bertie Ahern could otherwise be known as Here I Banter.
The contributors to the website have really struck gold with their anagram skills - Jackie Healy Rae becomes A Jar Ye Each Like while the Green’s Dan Boyle becomes Boney Lad!
Trevor Sargent may be a bit wary of his anagram - Restart Govern - while Noel Dempsey can chose between two anagrams - Speedy Lemon or My Dense Pole!!!
But the gold medal goes jointly to the two geniuses who figured out that Financial Regulator is an anagram for Ritual Loaning Farce and the National Asset Management Agency is an anagram for Alas, Money In A Stagnant Cement Age!!!
It is nice to see a bit of good news in the Green camp so well done to Green councillor Malcolm Noonan on his election as Mayor of Kilkenny city.
To say the local elections were rough for the Greens would be an understatement. Yet with the handful of councillors who did manage to escape the guillotine, it is nice to see one reach a high office.
Politics is a game of chance. It is a game of risk. You win some and you lose some. The Greens have reached Ground Zero in terms of support on local and city councils but - being optimistic - the only way is up for them.
Mayor Noonan is the first Green Mayor of Kilkenny and what a year it will be as 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of the granting of city status by King James, no less.
First Christy Burke and now New Ross Cllr John Dwyer - Sinn Fein doesn’t appear to have a lot of luck hanging on to its members.
Christy Burke was the first to jump ship just days after the June 5 local elections after being re-elected as a Sinn Fein candidate. He is now an Independent.
And just this week, New Ross Cllr John Dwyer announced he was leaving the ranks of Sinn Fein and re-starting his political life as an Independent - also after winning a seat under the Sinn Fein banner.
As the great Oscar Wilde might have said if he was around today - ‘to lose one member may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness’!
Fine Gael’s Michael Ring is fast becoming the Michelle Obama of Leinster House!
Since becoming First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama has become renowned for her relationship with kids during school visits around the country.
She is warm and fuzzy and does not engage in formal handshakes – Michelle is all about hugs, pats on the back and fist-bumps.
And so onto Michael Ring – he certainly had shades of Mrs Obama’s warm and fuzzy style when a group of kids from Lankhill National School in Westport came to Leinster House on a day trip on Tuesday.
As the kids gathered outside the House for their school picture, Michael – their local TD – was treated like a mini-celebrity when he came down to greet them.
It started with handshakes and soon moved on to back-pats and hugs as all the kids wanted a piece of the colourful Mayo man.
The Ringmaster of Fine Gael was even being targeted for autographs by the kids of Lankhill.
Fine Gael are past masters of turning celebrities into politicians. Now it seems they are mastering the art of turning politicians in to celebrities – in the eyes of the great kids from Westport anyway!