Noses put out of joint at FG tale of two dinners
The European People's Party (EPP) may pride itself on being one big happy Euro-family, but alas some of the humble backbenchers from its Irish clan were left feeling like forgotten children this week.
Fine Gael hosted a dinner – or, rather, two dinners – for visiting delegates and political poobahs at the Convention Centre in Dublin on Thursday night, where the two-day EPP congress was in full swing.
Various Fine Gael TDs, senators and councillors such as deputies Jerry Buttimer and Eoghan Murphy and Senator Paul Coghlan were happily tucking into the buffet on the first floor of the building, when the party's general secretary Tom Curran appeared, looking flustered.
A second, posher dinner had been organised on the next floor for all sorts of foreign dignitaries and local bigwigs, to which a select group of parliamentarians – including deputies Aine Collins, Sean Conlon and Martin Heydon – had been quietly invited. But unfortunately a number of the dignitaries were no-shows, leaving embarrassing gaps at the tables which needed to be speedily filled.
And so Tom roped in some of the not-invited crowd to do the needful.
This resulted in noses being put out of joint all around, what with some of the chosen few not thrilled about the fresh influx, and the new herd taking the hump over not being invited in the first place. "It was all a bit upstairs, downstairs," grumbled one put-upon Pleb.
Hmm, it looks as if the Fine Gael family is less Waltons and more Simpsons...
Enda's an outsider in baby stakes
While most of the Fine Gael politicians were eager to rub pinstriped shoulders with their European counterparts in the Convention Centre, one of the party had other matters on his mind. Chief Whip Paul Keogh's wife Brigid was expecting their third child, and a baby girl – their second daughter Emma – was born on Tuesday.
However, Lucinda Creighton, whose first child is due any day now, was spotted happily wandering about the Congress with her husband, Senator Paul Bradford. And as the former minister for Europe is rather fond of the whole Euro lark, there was a few quiet bets taken that Lucinda's leanbh may be named Angela or Jean-Claude. But no money was going on the babby being christened Enda, oddly enough....
Thank goodness Bono provided some craic
There wasn't a whole heap of what some of our European family would call "the incorrectly spelled craic" during the plenary sessions and speechifying over the two days of the Congress.
So there was much excitement when Bono settled into his natural habitat (centre-stage) to deliver a 20-minute oration.
U2's singer complimented the Taoiseach, but gave him a slagging for preferring Bruce Springsteen to his own band.
Inevitably, Enda began his own speech by quipping: "If Bono hasn't left the building I just want to tell him that I do love his music – I just still haven't found what I'm looking for," he said to a chorus of groans (Irish) and chuckles (everyone non-Irish).
Coincidentally, Enda's first encounter with Bono was at a 2009 Bruce Springsteen gig.
The then Opposition leader was sitting with a pal in one of the stands of Dublin's RDS, when most of the band and their wives arrived and sat in the row in front of him.
The Diary was in the same row, and during an interval I began chatting to Bono, and also to Enda, before realising that the pair had never met.
And so an introduction was made, and they yakked away. Now, Bono can attest that Enda isn't just a Bruce fan. He plays a mean air-guitar too.