Friday 19 January 2018

'Why not be Taoiseach Mary?'

Minister laughs off her quip about job

Grainne Cunningham

BEWARE Mr Cowen, for they say many a true word is spoken in jest.

Tourism, Sport and Culture Minister Mary Hanafin made a very public play for the beleaguered Taoiseach's job last night -- and then laughed it off as an idle pleasantry.

"Why not be Taoiseach Mary," she said, before hastily adding a self-chastising "no, no".

Perhaps it was the lofty surroundings which made her a little light-headed -- she was in the panoramic function room of Dublin's new convention centre. Could staring out at the splendid vista of her country's capital have awakened a power lust in the frontbencher?

Ms Hanafin, who was there to launch Micheal O Siadhail's 13th book of poetry 'Tongues', was speaking about "unlived dreams" and why we should all pursue our heart's desire. Addressing Labour TD Ruairi Quinn, who was among the guests, she teased: "Why not be President, Ruairi?", provoking great amusement from the man in question and the crowd.

And then, stepping into more risque territory given these sensitive times, she wondered why she could not lead the next Government.

This is the same woman, who admirably defended her errant leader in the immediate aftermath of the now infamous interview but later managed to say how "awful" he sounded three times in the one response.

And her playful hint of ambition last night came just days after 'Apprentice' maestro Bill Cullen named her as the best performer in Irish politics and said she should be the next Taoiseach.

Surely, such words from one of the most respected businessmen in the country would be enough to turn any woman's head. If it is anything to go on, the gag went down well with those gathered for the launch of the poetry collection.

O Siadhail said his poems "celebrated in the richness and delighted in the variety of the human imagination, in the many ways in which it is expressed, including language".

"As a poet I know nothing quite like the thrill of taking these organised sounds and signs we make and shaping them in sequences of rhythm and meaning. I want to hold up the wonder of tongues and say: How about this?"

Guests at the event included author Tim Pat Coogan, former artistic director of the Abbey Patrick Mason, batik maker Bernadette Madden, playwright Bernard Farrell, former GAA All-Star Anton Carroll, portrait painter James Hanley, the cartoonist Tom Mathews and hairdresser Robert Chambers.

Irish Independent

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