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Inside the Ard Fheis Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand

'Old Fianna Fail' certainly got the cold shoulder from the party grassroots.

A motion calling for the rats who jumped ship before the last general election to not be let back on board was passed unanimously. Proposing the motion, Caitriona McLean said the party was now rolling up its sleeves to help new candidates. She said there was "no room for a return to Me Feinism" and she got a standing ovation when she told the dinosaurs: "You did not walk with us."

Although it's unclear which, if any, of the TDs who actually retired before the last general election want to return, the mood was viewed as sending a message to the old guard about the membership's sentiments.

Crime journalist Paul Williams is a peppery sort of chap who usually can't go five minutes when talking of the nation's criminals without using the epithet "scumbag".

But at yesterday's ard fheis, the Irish Independent special correspondent trained his ire on Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan during a crime debate, when he excoriated the Roscommon-South Sligo deputy for criticising gardai. Paul blasted him as a "dope-addled muppet" who "got up on the night that Adrian Donohoe was lying in his coffin" and accused the gardai of corruption. The journalist got a standing ovation from the delegates, and Ming subsequently said he regarded the "muppet" comment as a compliment. Paul probably didn't know that Ming actually owns an Oscar the Grouch T-shirt which he has worn in the Dail chamber. If the shirt fits . . .

Male politicians, beware – The Mammy

Academy for Female Candidates is coming to a constituency near you. During a session on gender balance in Irish politics, former Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke, right, reckoned a new Fianna Fail women's group needed to be established to encourage more of the sisters to enter politics and she said she would be "glad" to become a mentor. She also reassured the (few) men in the hall, "you've nothing to fear from an all-female Fianna Fail group . . . only untold delights".

Irish Independent