Tuesday 23 January 2018

Enda uplifted after escape from elevator

Taoiseach stoic as he weathers more ups and downs of politics

A lift engineer inspects the elevator doors after the Taoiseach and ministers got stuck Photo: Frank McGrath
A lift engineer inspects the elevator doors after the Taoiseach and ministers got stuck Photo: Frank McGrath
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

A posse of media and assorted Kerry Group staff scampered anxiously up the stairs to the third floor. Way too many people had crammed into the lift adjoining the one containing the Taoiseach, and it had stalled briefly for a couple of sweaty minutes between floors. By now Enda surely had disappeared into some part of the gleaming complex.

But on the third floor, photographers and a TV cameraman still loitered, watching the three lift doors. One of them was ominously displaying a symbol rather than a number, and realisation swiftly dawned. "The Taoiseach's got stuck", loudly concluded a member of the freed posse.

Aghast, the Kerry folk scattered, pulling out phones. Somewhere between floors, the Taoiseach was incarcerated with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Kerry Group CEO Stan McCarthy.

Oh dear, and, Enda was in the building to open the new Global Technology and Innovation Centre.

Everyone watched the lift and felt bad for Stan, who surely was having a nightmare day. The minutes passed. This had happened to James Reilly at an event in Gormanstown a couple of years ago, and he had the added bad luck of having a press photographer stuck along with him. This time, the snappers were arrayed outside, cameras poised.

A couple of local Fine Gael TDs, Anthony Lawlor and Bernard Durkan, wandered out to see what was delaying their boss. Upon hearing of the Taoiseach's pickle, Anthony sprang into action, having evidently watched one too many White House disaster films.

"You'd be the senior politician here, which puts you in charge," he informed Bernard. Everyone wondered who had the nuclear codes.

A chap with some tools bustled up and opened the lift door, peering downwards to ascertain that Enda's lift was neither here nor there.

Another couple of minutes passed. Golly, it had to be getting stifling in there. And what if the Taoiseach was stuck there till November? There'd be no early election at all.

But then there was a sudden clatter on the stairs and up trudged the Taoiseach in one piece, alongside his ministers and also Richard Bruton. Had he been in the lift too? (Though in fairness, the wiry Jobs Minister wouldn't have taken up too much room). But no, he had missed the fateful lift.

Imperturbable Kerryman Jimmy Deenihan was breezy. "It was a good meeting room. Very intimate," he grinned.

Enda later shrugged off the incident. "It was a private meeting," he joked. "Sometimes if you happen to get stuck in a lift with a number of people, some people might be claustrophobic and might be a little bit concerned," he added. "If you're high up, it could be a difficult situation, if something were to give way. But it was only for a few minutes, the technician came along and rescued everybody. I wouldn't describe it as a sauna, or anything like that."

They all soon cheered up as they were brought on a tour of all the food and drink innovations devised by the Kerry Group, sampling Moscow Mule cocktails "with a Kerry twist" and loads of sweets.

"It's like Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory - where are the Everlasting Gobstoppers?" marvelled Simon Coveney. "I'm just waiting for the wallpaper I can lick," added local TD Martin Heydon, who had been trapped in the lift too.

But other gags were irresistible. "If this had happened in Cork, the Taoiseach could've got a lift off Dara Murphy," whispered one wit. How naughty...

Irish Independent

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