Monday 26 February 2018

Gilmore comes close to cracking after a day of ugly exchanges

Protesters, carrying Eirigi and People Before Profit placards, block the car taking Eamon Gilmore and Frances Fitzgerald to a
UNICEF launch in Ballyfermot
Protesters, carrying Eirigi and People Before Profit placards, block the car taking Eamon Gilmore and Frances Fitzgerald to a UNICEF launch in Ballyfermot
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

There was egg everywhere yesterday. Egg all over the bonnet and windscreen of Eamon Gilmore's car, and egg all over the face of Eamon's party chairman Colm 'Kalamity' Keaveney.

The Tanaiste and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald arrived at The Base community centre in Ballyfermot for the launch of UNICEF Ireland's campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum. But as soon as the black BMW pulled up in front of the centre, it was engulfed by a group of about 25 protesters carrying Eirigi and People before Profit placards and a large white banner warning: 'Hands Off Our Child Benefit'.

The air was thick with obscenities. The bonnet and windscreen were pelted with eggs and the windows spat on. It was an ugly scene, especially as it was happening outside a centre full of children awaiting the arrival of the politicians.

The couple of gardai on the scene were outnumbered, and after a few minutes the BMW drove off. The protesters were chuffed. Another brave blow struck for the children.

Inside the centre, the launch went on without the Tanaiste and minister. Mr Gilmore's chief advisor Mark Garrett said they wouldn't return "in order to protect the safety of the children".

Instead, the UNICEF event was rescheduled to take place in the Department of Foreign Affairs later in the day.

A while later the Tanaiste was back in Iveagh House for a working lunch with Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney (no eggs on the menu).

He was clearly disgusted with the morning's spectacle. "This was a protest which turned very aggressive," he declared.

Eamon wasn't having the best of days. His breakfast had been ruined by RTE who had got hold of an email sent out by Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney to councillors regarding the Shortall-Reilly Rumble.

The leaked missive read like a Dan Brown excerpt with mysterious references to "another context" to recent events. And then to add conspiracy to injury, Kalamity Keaveney popped up on the 'Pat Kenny Show' to clear things up, but only made matters worse. "There are internal matters, which I have no intention of discussing with you or to the media. They are of concern, of matters primarily to my fellow members," he waffled.

Pat was not impressed. "I have to say that you have muddied the waters even further than the leak of, or partial leak of, a letter," he declared.

Oh dear. Egg on face all round. How Eamon must've gnashed his teeth over his porridge -- just when the James Reilly storm appeared to be abating, Colm's Context whipped it right back up again.

And so the Tanaiste was left to explain what this sinister Context was all about. It was simply "the need for stability" in the Coalition, he said in Iveagh House.

There was no Smoking Shortall, no rattling skeleton -- just a desire to avoid sailing the Good Ship Coalition into a bloody great big iceberg.

"Everybody knows what the problems are, it's not a case of keeping the problems behind closed doors," he insisted, without a hint of eggs-aggeration.

Irish Independent

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