Thursday, December 17, 2009

Paul Bags Himself Another Fine Mess!

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!

Seanad Santa's Gift

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??

Ciaran's Summit is a Rail Odyssey

They are not all loopers in the Green Party - take Ciaran Cuffe for example, he is a man who lives by his ideals and beliefs.

Currently in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change conference, Ciaran was determined not to increase his carbon footprint by flying to the Danish capital.

Instead he took the long route there.

He left from Dun Laoghaire on the ferry to Holyhead on Sunday afternoon and then got a train to London.

He overnighted in London and then caught the Eurostar to Brussels and then on to Cologne where be boarded a night-sleeper to the Danish capital.

A trip that would have taken less than three hours by air was instead a two-day odyssey across Europe for Ciaran.

For Fianna Weather??

Let the stampede begin - tickets have gone on sale for the Fianna Fail superdraw!

Each ticket costs €50 but thrown into the bargain is not only the chance to win a prize, but instant membership of Cairde Fianna Fail!

This year’s prizes are decent enough - there are two cars up for grabs.

But this column was slightly bemused at the third prize - a set of garden furniture!!

With Irish weather??? Are you joking???

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Politicians tightening their own belts!

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!

Former diplomat to run for Governor

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.

Baby joy for Blaney

Congrats are the order of the day for Fianna Fail TD Niall Blaney who has become a Dad for the third time.

The Donegal North East TD and his wife Rosaleen welcomed their third child earlier this week with the arrival of a baby boy, weighing just over eight pounds.

The couple - who already have two little girls, Eva and Laragh - are naming their son Harry after Niall’s dad - the famous Harry Blaney.

Text message is all above Border

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.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jingle Bells - Gerry's felled....

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.

A Committee - at work!

You hear about Oireachtas Committees, you read about Oireachtas Committees - now here’s your chance to see an Oireachtas Committee in operation.

On Tuesday, members of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights left the cosy confines of Leinster House and ventured out into the big bad world.

The purpose of the outing was to see Ireland’s new criminal courts complex beside the Phoenix Park.

The new 23,000 square metre complex houses 22 courtrooms and will be the new home to the Court of Criminal Appeal, Special Criminal Court, Central Criminal Court as well as the District Courts.

Sniff, sniff - oink oink?!

Sinn Fein had to publicly deny rumours that its party president Gerry Adams had fallen victim to swine flu.

On Tuesday Mr Adams was due to take part in a live public interview at the National College of Ireland on the topic of leadership.

But the announcement that he was forced to cancel due to ‘suspected swine flu’ became an instant talking point among politics watchers.

The truth was eventually laid bare within hours when Sinn Fein issued a statement denying that the party president had Swine Flu.

“He has not contracted Swine Flu. He is currently suffering from a dose of the flu,” a spokesperson said.

Time for a united Ireland?

Now that Fianna Fail has spread its tentacles north of the border to Fermanagh, the SDLP’s deputy leader reckons its time to start talking about a united Ireland.

Alasdair McDonnell believes the time has come to move the debate on a united Ireland forward.

“We predicted that political change would come in an agreed Ireland and it is beginning to happen,” he said.

“The fact is that there is a great hunger in our people for all-Ireland politics.”

“Almost all the political parties on this island grew directly or indirectly out of the constitutional conflict of the early 20th century.”

“That conflict is now over, there is a new dispensation of consent and we must have a new political conversation.”