Friday 18 October 2019

Michael D's walkabout like set of a rom-com as mobile love bomb let loose on the capital

Meet and greet: Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meet Rosie Valentine and her daughter Lilly, from Templeogue, on Grafton Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Meet and greet: Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina meet Rosie Valentine and her daughter Lilly, from Templeogue, on Grafton Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

He had scarcely taken 10 steps when it became glaringly apparent that this whole thing was ridiculous.

Everyone was smiling. Bunches of flowers were being presented. Babies were being thrust forward to be kissed.

People wearing the fervent expression of fanatics pressed eagerly forward to thank him for being "such a great President".

Others were craning their necks from the windows of the upper floors in the same way they did when Meghan Markle was in town.

Bubbling over with excitement, a girl rang her mother to loudly inform her that she was "on Grafton Street with Michael D".

It was like the set of a sugar-sweet rom-com - we were only waiting for someone to burst into song. Bono and Glen Hansard, would be the obvious choices, given that it was Grafton Street.

In the meanwhile, it was the regular buskers who were in danger of being squashed by this dangerously mobile love bomb let loose on the city centre of the capital.

The three hankie plot of this weepy feel-good movie culminated when a flower seller presented Sabina Higgins with a small bunch of white roses.

She turned out to be Vicky Dempsey. She is the former partner of 'Fat Freddie' Thompson, the notorious gangland figure who is currently doing time for murder.

She has now left that life behind and is selling flowers for a living. "I used to always buy my flowers here," Sabina murmured to her and Vicky gave her a big hug.

Unless something particularly drastic happens in this election campaign, the President has it in the bag. Again.

On Grafton Street, he was as welcome as the flowers of May.

The only question is why we are wasting upwards of €15m to prove it?

Shortly after 3.30pm, they strolled happily up past the Gaiety Theatre, Michael D in his nice blue suit and Sabina seasonally vibrant in orange.

From then on, it was a frenzy. Stephen and David Flynn - otherwise known as 'The Happy Pear' appeared. At one point, John Tutty from Rathfarnman presented Sabina with a sunflower.

He was a great fan of this presidency, "particularly the first lady because she is lovely," he explained.

Rosie Valentine and her six-week-old daughter Lilly posed for a picture. "He'll be getting the vote," laughed Rosie.

Close to the Phil Lynott statue, Michael D pulled in for a press conference.

It has emerged RTÉ is to adopt an 'empty-chair' approach after he declined to take part in a televised debate on 'Claire Byrne Live'.

He denied avoiding the event, but said: "It's a matter of making a choice between the different offers that are there."

Mr Higgins confirmed he would debate his five rivals in a debate moderated by Pat Kenny on Virgin Media One on Wednesday, October 17, as well as a 'Prime Time' RTÉ showdown on Tuesday, October 23.

He again faced a series of questions about an annual €317,000 allowance. He has committed to publishing details on how the money is spent - but not until after the election on October 26.

The President angrily attacked reports in a weekend newspaper that some of the money might have been used to top up the salary of a staff member, describing it as an "outrageous, slanderous comment to make" and said it was "not true".

Irish Independent

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