News Lise Hand

Saturday 30 August 2014

It's like old times as Noel rolls back

Lise Hand

Published 19/04/2014 | 02:30

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Former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey outside the Dail in 2010. Photo: Damien Eagers
Former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey outside the Dail in 2010. Photo: Damien Eagers
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Diners in the public restaurant in Leinster House found themselves digesting a large platter of deja vu this week when a familiar face materialised in the vicinity. For there was former Fianna Fail minister Noel Dempsey, tucking into his lunch like it was the olden times.

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Sightings of the last administration's Transport Minister have been few and far between since he announced his retirement in 2011.

But now he's back with bells on, having just landed a gig heading up the non-profit Temple Bar Company, which aims to clean up the tarnished image of the area.

However, Noel's not the only ghost of Fianna Fail spotted drifting along the corridors of power of late – Gerry Collins has also been in and out of the building. Perhaps the former minister/MEP is just taking a few trips down memory lane – although one insider hinted that the elder statesman has been drafted in to help clean up the tarnished image of the party.

It's all quite discombobulating.

What with Noel's fierce big job, and Bertie turning up at local election meetings to give dig-outs to candidates and have digs at the Fianna Fail leader, and rocketing property prices and a smiling Seanie Fitz back on the front pages – one has to wonder if the oul Celtic Tiger actually died at all, at all...

A timely break for the bullish and the bull

The Easter break for the members of the Oireachtas is probably timely, as it seems tempers were all getting a little frayed in the past few days.

Even one of the more gilded members of Fine Gael found himself getting it in the neck during a party pow-wow on all matters agricultural on Tuesday evening.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, along with about 20 FG TDs, attended the meeting, which was chaired by Kildare South's Martin Heydon.

However, some of the backbenchers were bulling over Simon's dismissive stance to those among them who had a beef about the rising price of bull beef and issues surrounding control of the multi-billion euro industry.

Carlow-Kilkenny's Pat Deering rounded on the minister, insisting it was an issue, a view echoed by Galway East's Paul Connaughton and Kildare North's Anthony Lawlor.

"He wasn't long reining in his horns. It wasn't a good week for him. The gloss is really gone off of him," sniffed one insider, unimpressed by Simon's bull.

Equally unamoosed this week were various members of the Coalition, what with the Government landing itself in hot H2O over proposed water charges.

But although tempers of the Taoiseach and Tanaiste reportedly boiled over at this week's cabinet meeting on the tricky matter, one Fine Gael backbencher was confident that the barney wouldn't lead to a walk-out by the junior coalition partners. "Labour won't walk on water," he predicted.

Indeed.

Reilly's in need of some landmine-free material

On Wednesday, the Health Minister earned himself an approving "Hear, hear, well said," from David Norris for the closing quip of his speech.

James "It's the way I tell 'em" Reilly (right) was winding up his contribution to the Seanad debate on banning smoking in cars with kiddies on board, and he concluded: "I'll just say that in relation to Health being Angola, well, it's my goal and I'd like to think it would be everybody's goal that we turn it into East Anglia where it's normal, boringly predictable, safe, and where there's not too much excitement."

It was a good line – so good, in fact, that he's used it twice now, first unveiling it about six months ago when he declared his intention of ridding the under-siege department of the multifarious landmines that lurk therein by transmogrifying it into the sleepy haunch of England.

Hmm, perhaps next time the minister trots out his favourite line, he may be better off switching venues to another benign spot – Andorra, perhaps – given that twice within 24 hours this week, a region in the English midlands, not too far from East Anglia, was rattled by a couple of small earthquakes.

Irish Independent

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