Thursday 19 April 2018

Lise Hand on Saturday: Former TD won't spill beans on 'that' vote

Former FG TD Padraic McCormack with his memoirs.
Former FG TD Padraic McCormack with his memoirs.
Labour's Michael McNamara: caused a splash in the Dail
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

One of the best-kept secrets in Fine Gael is just how close Enda came to being toppled in the infamous failed heave of 2010. Only two people counted the 70 votes – now junior minister Paschal Donohoe and then parliamentary party chairman Padraic McCormack – and both ain't telling.

Padraic, who didn't run in 2011, was back in Leinster House this week for the launch of his book, 'The Rocky Road to the Dail' by the Taoiseach.

Enda was in jolly form at the launch, telling yarns about how then-Taoiseach Garrett had sent him, a lowly Mayo backbencher, to Kinvara during the first divorce referendum in the 1980s to explain the Constitutional Crusade to the farmers – but they only wanted to know when the plastic from their silage bales would be collected.

In the book, Padraic writes about the heave, telling how some of Richard Bruton's backers had accused Simon Coveney of leaking information to the other camp.

"He vigorously protested his innocence but the harm was done. I know Coveney took this very badly," the former TD reveals.

And Enda even mentioned The War, asking if Richard – who had been the head heave person – was in the audience at the book launch. He wasn't, but several Kenny loyalists were.

But sure those days are all water under the bridge, aren't they?

Fr Reid's 'jaw-dropping' revelation

When TV3's Ursula Halligan recorded an interview with Fr Alec Reid last July, she didn't realise it would be one of the last interviews that the priest – who was so instrumental to the peace process – would conduct before his death yesterday.

It is included in what promises to be an intriguing documentary entitled 'Sinn Fein – Who Are They?', which is to be screened on TV3 next week.

Ursula wasn't revealing the contents of the programme, which examines the party's history, ideologies and its key figures, but she did admit that Fr Reid said "something extraordinary" about party leader Gerry Adams. "My jaw dropped," she said.

However, in the course of a candid interview with Mary Lou McDonald as she shopped in her local supermarket, Ursula learnt about a past tragedy in the deputy leader's family history that may well have shaped her politics.

Mary Lou's grand-uncle, 24-year-old railway worker James O'Connor, from Bansha, Co Tipperary, was executed in December 1922 alongside six others by the Free State forces.

So it may well be that this violent death of her anti-Treaty ancestor had an influence on a politician who is not regarded as a stereotypical traditional member of Sinn Fein, being a Dublin woman who played no part in the Troubles that affected the North.

The documentary will be screened on TV3 on Monday night at 10pm, so get the popcorn ready, folks.

'Pixie heads' in deep water

Water, water everywhere, but ne'er a drop to shampoo Fido. This is the apocalyptic scenario facing the golden circle of privileged elite widely known outside the Pale as Them Up In Dublin, as envisaged by Clare TD Michael McNamara.

The Labour deputy was venting a bit of spleen in the Dail on Wednesday over the fraught issue of the contents of the Shannon being diverted in large volumes to the water-starved capital. Michael pointed out that "farmers adjacent to the lake can't take water for their livestock to drink without getting permission to do so. Now it's proposed to divert that water to Dublin so people can wash their pets. We're going to look like very silly pixie heads if, instead of fixing the water infrastructure problem in Dublin, we propose to divert water there".

Given that the Government spends €1bn a year on water treatment and supply, yet half of this leaks through broken pipes, Michael is right. That's one billion of our money, government pixie heads.

Irish Independent

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