Lise Hand: Tourism route's nickname has a certain Ring to it
THE folks in Fáilte Ireland are no dummies, in fairness. Holidays involving traversing roads, tracks and trails by car, bicycle or shank's mare are all the rage now – for instance, over 200,000 pilgrims walked the Camino in Spain last year.
And so with much fanfare, the tourism agency unveiled the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500km driving route which stretches from Malin Head in Donegal to the Old Kinsale Head in Cork, and which is filled with fun things to do – it includes 53 blue flag beaches and 120 golf courses.
The launch of the new tourism wheeze took place in Dublin this week – a choice of venue which didn't best please Mayoman Michael Ring. The junior tourism minister wanted to have the event in some spot along the actual route (Westport, anyone?), but apparently it was deemed that the capital was more convenient for the ladies and gentlemen of the Dublin meeja.
"If it's bad news, like flooding in West, you can't keep the cameras away from the place," grumbled Michael, who has vowed to drag the hapless hacks to a proper launch party in some location along the route, such as Donegal, Clare (or Westport) once the weather improves. But this should cheer him up in the meantime – it seems that in tourism circles the new route has already acquired a nickname.
It's now called the Ring Road. And proper order – sure isn't it wild and rugged like the man himself ...
Relax, there's only one Alan Shatter
GIVEN his ubiquity in the headlines these days, the inattentive reader could be forgiven for believing that there are two Alan Shatters.
And this startling possibility was raised during Questions to the Justice Minister in the Dail on Thursday. Fianna Fail's Sean O Fearghail observed to the minister that he had sent the same question to both the Department of Justice and Department of Defence, seeking tabular information on what responsibilities and powers current legislation confers on each department.
Sean explained that he had received two markedly different responses.
"I have heard of cabinet splits but I have never heard of a split on the part of an individual minister. Can the minister explain how that situation could evolve and why the Minister for Justice and Equality, apparently, does not agree with the Minister for Defence?" he asked.
"He's having a fight with himself," reckoned Niall Collins, a not-unreasonable conclusion – though both Alans would claim victory in any scrap.
"The Minister for Justice and the Minister for Defence do on occasion agree with each other," revealed Alan.
Phew. We've been spared the spectacle of Defence Alan asking the Taoiseach to hold his coat while he steps outside with Justice Alan ...
Bubbly senator uncorks taste of nostalgia
"IT was just like the golden olden days of Fianna Fail," sighed one nostalgic observer, who was referring to the Ahern Era, rather than the subsequent Reign of Error.
A few denizens of the Dail bar were startled from their reveries into a trip down memory lane on Wednesday afternoon by the sound of Champagne corks popping (well, one Champagne cork popping, but still).
And the man with the Moet was a jubilant Senator Feargal Quinn, who had arrived into the public bar with a small coterie of staff and supporters, after his bill banning upward-only rent reviews had unexpectedly passed in the Seanad, defeating the Government by a single vote.
The understandably delighted senator passed around the bubbly, handing over two glasses to his Upper House colleague John Crown, who was sitting at the back of the room with a friend.