Wednesday 21 February 2018

McGuinness the poet and juggler Davis reveal softer sides for the TG4 cameras

The candidates in the studio at the TG4 presidential debate yesterday
The candidates in the studio at the TG4 presidential debate yesterday

Brian McDonald

THEY put Michael D in the boardroom and Sean Gallagher in the chief executive's office.

Those looking for pointers in the allocation of rooms to the seven presidential candidates will have read much into the positioning of the two poll leaders as they arrived ahead of yesterday's debate at the TG4 headquarters in Connemara.

Exactly what thought went into the exercise was not immediately obvious. But when we saw Mary Davis escorted to Seomra Maire Aoibhinn (Lovely Mary), then we just knew there was a deft hand behind the job.

Just for the record, Gay Mitchell got the accountant's office, David Norris was put in the leather room, Martin McGuinness was placed in HR, and Dana got the scheduling room.

Not easy to find seven rooms to accommodate the candidates and their various entourages as they got ready for the latest in the seemingly interminable series of debates.

One by one they arrived at the Baile na hAbhann studios, with scheduled five to 10-minute intervals between each. Station CEO Pol O Gallchoir was on meet-and-greet duty, seeing as he had been turfed out of his own office.

All went swimmingly with the first six candidates, each pausing to mutter a few words in the first official language and promising to keep it in a central role in the presidency. Those who had Gaeilge liofa -- pretty much Michael D alone -- rattled on at some length and those who struggled made apologies and promised to keep up the cleachtadh.


But time dragged on as Mr Gallagher was awaited. Almost 30 minutes after candidate number six, his car duly pulled up. His arrival had all the hallmarks of that of an important person. He moved at no haste, stopping to chat quietly and deferentially to an tUasal O Gallchoir, introducing his wife Trish, and very slowly making his way to the waiting media.

Mr Gallagher hasn't put a foot wrong so far and didn't either in the debate. But then, nobody really messed up in the bilingual interview with presenter Paidi O Lionaird.

So what did we learn from the exercise? Mr Higgins and Mr Norris are not the only poets in the field. Asked about his party piece, Mr McGuinness revealed he also has a yen for the rhyming couplet and later recited one of his poems, 'Fullerton's Dam'.

Mr Norris can play Chopin and 'Ragtime', Mr Mitchell does a verse of 'Ireland, Mother Ireland' as his party piece, Michael D likes to regale with a tale or two from his past, Dana, of course, loves a sing-song and Ms Davis does a bit of juggling.

Mr Gallagher, meanwhile, advised he was not born with a talent to either sing or play a musical instrument. But he enjoys a dance.

His twinkle toes may help him to stay light on his feet over the next eight days.

Irish Independent

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