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Friday 22 August 2014

O'Driscoll to the rescue as Ringer faces tall order

Lise Hand

Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30

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Brian O’Driscoll with Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring at the Farmleigh reception. Photo: Collins
Brian O’Driscoll with Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring at the Farmleigh reception. Photo: Collins

Michael Ring isn't a chap who is short on self-confidence. Nor is he short on things to say. Nor, for that matter, is the busy junior minister short of things to do.

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However, the Ringer is – not to put too fine a point on it – short. Now, this is not a physical reality that impedes him one whit in his day-to-day duties – indeed, he can take heart from the fact that he has colleagues sitting merrily on the front bench who are also delightfully diminutive.

But for once, the Mayo man was feeling a little self-conscious as he mingled with the strapping warriors of Ireland's Six Nations team at a reception he organised for the champs at Farmleigh this week. And, of course, matters weren't helped by the fact that his senior minister – Leo Varadkar, who was also floating about – stands about 6ft 2in in his socks.

And so when Michael was asked to pose for a photograph with Leo and Ireland captain Paul O'Connell – who looks about 7ft 8in but is, in fact, a mere 6ft 6in – and the Six Nations Cup, he knew that he would end up looking like the bold child between two beaming parents.

Then he had a brainwave, and button-holed a passing lad who was mercifully under the 6ft mark. "Step in here, and take the bad look off me looking small," Ringer asked him.

Being a decent sort, Brian O'Driscoll obliged. Good to see he's making himself useful since hanging up the green jersey...

Hayes sets the stage for LGBT Rising

If anyone was uncertain where Fine Gael's Dublin candidate for a European seat stands on the matter of gay marriage, Brian Hayes left them in no doubt at all this week.

Brian was addressing the first AGM of his party's LGBT branch and got stuck into the notion that civil partnership is good enough for the gay community, arguing "we are either equal as citizens of this country, or we are nothing at all".

Eamon Gilmore may have described it as "the civil rights issue of our generation," but the junior minister went much further – indeed, Brian appeared to be gripped by the ghost of Eamon's hero, James Connolly.

He scaled impressive oratorical heights, proclaiming the battle for gay marriage to be akin to the 1916 Rising when young men "were forced to fight because they wanted an equal and free Ireland. They didn't fight and die for partial equality or for 'almost equal'. They fought for full equality under the law for every man, woman and child in Ireland, be they gay, straight or otherwise."

Golly. Who knew that the polite Fine Gael TD was so passionate about next year's referendum on same-sex marriage?

Just as well that he's short odds to be an MEP by the time that referendum rolls around in the summer of 2015. Just think of the traffic chaos that would ensue on O'Connell Street if Brian was to barricade himself into the GPO with a stockpile of armaments, calling upon the citizenry to die in the name of the gay and the straight.

We're not too sure about the "otherwise", though – they may have to fend for themselves...

Stop bugging me: Mattie does a number on Kenny

A minister trotted along the corridors of power on Wednesday, sporting a cheerful grin. "Isn't it great to be part of a Government that knows nothing?" he chirped.

And undeniably, the confusion level in Leinster House was turned right up to 11 this week, as bafflement, befuddlement and bewilderment reigned over the GUBU-like chaos of UBUG.

Inevitably, a black humour settled on the Dail denizens. Enda Kenny – doubtless unintentionally – provided a much-needed burst of light relief when he solemnly recounted his phone conversation with the AG last Sunday, which led to all hell breaking loose on bugging.

"She indicated that there was another matter of which I should be made aware," he gravely announced, before adding, "but she was not prepared to talk to me about the matter on the telephone."

There was a brief silence, and then a chorus of guffaws rose from the opposition benches. "Were you in a garda station at the time?" enquired a sardonic Joe Higgins.

"Were there bugs?" shouted Mattie McGrath (pictured) over the sound of thighs being slapped in mirth all around the chamber.

"Well Deputy McGrath may laugh," sulked the Taoiseach, but Mattie had his number.

Irish Independent

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