It is lovely to know that politicians – no matter how high on the political ladder they climb – don’t spoil their kids with material goods.
Take former Taoiseach and elder Statesman Garret FitzGerald – he came up with a novel way of keeping his son, John, entertained when he fell ill as a young boy.
John – who is better known to all as the wise sage at the helm of the ESRI – recalls a time when he was sick.
“I remember being sick at the age of ten and he gave me a train timetable and told me to work out how many trains I could get to Galway from Dublin and back, and to design an underground for Dublin and gave me the London metro map.”
“He made me think that was an interesting thing to do that as a child. I was enthusiastic about, this was entertainment.”
Ooops!! It seems the Labour Party has been a wee bit tongue tied this week.
Apart from leader Eamon Gilmore addressing Tanaiste Mary Coughlan as Taoiseach during Leaders Questions on Tuesday, the twitterers within the ranks also got the Tanaiste’s title slightly confused as well this week.
The Labour Party is really getting into this Twittering lark (still confuses me!) and on Tuesday afternoon the Labour tweet read: ‘Leaders Questions being taken by the Tanaisten (sic) as Cowen is in the North’.
But the clever lads and ladies at Labour HQ quickly saw the error of their ways and rapidly re-tweeted with the correct spelling – Tanaiste.
At long last - Gardai will soon have the right to take DNA samples from convicted criminals and those suspected or charged with a serious offence.
Why Ireland Inc waited so long for this measure to be brought it is anyone’s business. But now that it is almost here, it is a move that has to be welcomed.
But one Fianna Fail TD has stuck his neck on the line when it comes to the new DNA database - he believes that everyone should have to give a sample from the get-go.
Deputy Brendan Kenneally is chairman of the Oireachtas Justice Committee so he has his finger on the pulse of all things right and wrong in the eyes of the law.
But his proposal to take samples from everyone - regardless of their status under law - is sure to raise eyebrows and cause some controversy.
He said he sees no reason why the State can’t keep everyone’s DNA on file for use in crime solving.
“If everyone;s DNA records were available for this purpose, crime and organised crime would be crippled in this country,” he said.
“The criminals would have no where to hide and the amount of unsolved crimes, including murders, would also be slashed.”
The term ‘guilty until proved innocent’ is starting to creep in here.
He says as long as measures were taken so the DNA was only used to solve crimes, law abiding citizens would have nothing to fear from this measure.
“This system would help us know who was on the scene of practically every crime and that would make it very difficult for any criminal to get away with their actions, which would surely be better for the country,” he said.
Many in favour of an all-in DNA database will say ‘sure I have nothing to hide so I have nothing to fear’.
But the debate goes far beyond that - first DNA, what next? Microchipping?
I am no conspiracy theorist but I plan on keeping my DNA all to myself and I’m certain that this is a view held by a wide section of Irish society.
After all, we are all innocent until proven guilty.
Shoot the messenger - that is obviously what Fianna Fail’s Noel Treacy likes to do when quizzed about his high expenses.
For when asked about being the highest claimant in the Dail (last year he claimed €95,233 between expenses and allowances), the bold Noel tried to turn the tables on the journalists who simply reported the fact.
He claims there is a constant promotion through the media that politicians are getting lumps of cash, tax-free, into their back pockets.
“It is a constant incitement to public anger against politicians, which is totally unfair,” he says.
So he tried to crank up the rant machine inside him and have a go at the hacks who work out of Leinster House to bring the people of Ireland the news of what our politicians are up to.
First off he cribs about the fact that there are so many journalists accredited to Leinster House.
Well here’s a fact Noel - take it as a compliment that so many journalists are eager to cover the comings and goings of what goes on in our corridors of power.
He then goes on to say that journalists are provided with a range of free facilities at Leinster House, such as car parking, office space, phones, faxes, emails, computers and office facilities.
Well Noel, on behalf of the reporters who actually work out of Leinster House (a small fraction of those accredited) - that is not exactly true!
Let’s see: car parking - nope, not all journalists are entitled to a car parking space. In fact only a tiny minority enjoy this entitlement. I certainly don’t.
Now on to the other so-called perks that seem to irk the Deputy from East Galway. Yes we have access to email ON OUR MOBILE PHONES and faxes are an out-dated luxury enjoyed by only a handful of journalists.
And now to the crucial point - the fact that journalists have office space and computers in Leinster House.
What democratic parliament anywhere else in the world does not have press facilities for journalists? Would you rather we work out in the street? Or would you rather we ignore the goings on in Leinster House completely?
So Noel, before you start whining about the manner in which the media report on the tax-free expenses and allowances that politicians get - engage the brain a bit and maybe concentrate on ways to reform the system.
Thankfully we live in a democracy that enjoys a free press. And we will continue reporting on the expenses and allowances paid to politicians - like it or not.
And as for the reporting of TDs’ expenses and allowances being a ‘constant incitement to public anger against politicians’ - are you having a laugh?!
Some politicians are capable of doing that all by themselves!
The time has come and a group of brave TDs and Senators are preparing for full public scrutiny in their battle to shed a few pounds (in weight!)
The first installment of RTE’s Operation Transformation aired last night and as part of this series, some politicians will be following the expert tips to kick bad eating and health habits for the New Year in the full glare of the public.
One politician taking part is inviting the public to follow her progress on social networking site - Senator Phil Prendergast.
She will be sharing her experience of following a strict weight-loss and fitness programme for the next two months and she is hoping to raise a few bob for charity along the way.
She is looking for sponsors to help raise money for the Place4U project in Clonmel, which is a youth cafe, a drop-in centre for older people and will offer other community facilities.
You can follow Phil’s progress on Facebook and twitter (twitter.com/senphilp)
It is hardly surprising that the Government is dragging its feet in setting a date for the Donegal by-election to replace Pat The Cope Gallagher following his election to the European Parliament.
Anyone with even a passing interest in politics knows that the chance of a sitting Government winning a by-election is almost as rare as a Minister cutting short his holidays to respond to a national emergency.
Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty led the charge this week to put pressure on the Government, claiming that his constituency needs full representation of three seats in the Dail.
Doherty himself will be the Sinn Fein candidate and his chances are good judging by his performance in the 2007 general election.
Next off the blocks is Fine Gael - they will be selecting their candidate on the day after Valentine’s Day.
All that remains now is for the Government is to name the date!
Here’s something to give Finance Minister Brian Lenihan a bit of a laugh as he embarks on a long and arduous journey in his battle against cancer.
It seems that our Minister has become a bit of a sex-symbol!!
The level of support and good will out there for Brian Lenihan over the past fortnight has been unprecedented. As the Facebook site says - Politics Aside, We Wish Brian Lenihan Well.
One poster even went so far as to describe him as ‘our handsome Finance Minister’!
Well thankfully, our ‘handsome’ Finance Minister is a man with a good sense of humour and a rosy outlook on life. And he is confident that his handsome looks won’t suffer from the treatment that lies ahead.
“The advice is that the famous dark and indestructible hair of mine is not going to be destroyed by this treatment,” he said.
This column wishes the Minister every good wish in the tough times ahead.