| 18.2°C Dublin

Lise Hand: Jamie gives ladies reasons to be cheerful


Jamie Heaslip on the ball at Government Buildings.

Jamie Heaslip on the ball at Government Buildings.


Jamie Heaslip on the ball at Government Buildings.

NOW, our male TDs and senators are (mostly) fine upstanding chaps, but beefcake they ain't (sorry lads). If the women who work along the corridors of power have a hankering to gaze upon Chippendales, they must make do with checking out the antique furniture in the Taoiseach's well-appointed office (along with his Jacuzzi, full-sized snooker table and champagne bar).

But last Wednesday, there were a couple of reasons for the sisterhood to be cheerful.

Massachusetts' governor and close pal of President Obama, the charismatic Deval Patrick, popped into Government Buildings for a meeting with the Taoiseach, turning a few female heads in the process.

However, the fun didn't end there. For also roaming about the place was Leinster rugby captain Jamie Heaslip, who was being given a tour by Sports Minister Leo Varadkar.

"That was accidental, really," explained Leo the following day. He and the Leinster man got chatting at a photo-shoot for the Rugby Gathering, which is happening in UCD in August, when 50 teams are coming from overseas to play Irish teams.

"He mentioned to me that he'd never been around the Dail. So I offered to show him around. We went to the Taoiseach's office and the Dail and Seanad," said Leo.

Jamie had a quick word with Enda who was heading off to Leaders' Questions (and even had a go in the Taoiseach's chair), and no doubt had a tactical discussion about the common moves that politics and rugby share – kicking to touch, and James Reilly's predilection for hospital passes.

"Needless to say all the Taoiseach's staff were delighted," said Leo. "Jamie's very professional and unassuming, posed for photos with everyone, didn't get cranky. He'd make a good politician," he added thoughtfully. And sure, doesn't Jamie have his very own blue shirt and all . . .


Mullah Ming's mix-up like a scene straight from 'The Life of Brian'

PEOPLE of Iran, rejoice.

Ming the Merciful is on the march. A missive was sent forth from the office of the Ayatollah of Castlerea, inviting his fellow members of the Oireachtas to a meeting in Leinster House last week, where they could rub shoulders with the impressively titled People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), an opposition group in exile that advocates the overthrow of the mullahs' regime.

Moreover, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan explained that the representatives of the PMOI wouldn't be arriving empty-handed, but with invitations to take a (free) trip to Paris for their annual congress on June 22 which is attended by more than 100,000 exiled Iranians. "A few members of the Oireachtas travelled to this event last year and were very impressed by what they saw," said Ming, giving the sales pitch full welly.

And Mullah Ming, being a stickler for accuracy, sent out a second email correcting the first one. "The congress is being organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and not by the PMOI. The PMOI is a member of the NCRI," he amended himself, with unintentional echoes of 'The Life of Brian's' confusion over the Judean People's Front (JPF) and the People's Front of Judea (PFJ) and the Judean People's Popular Front (JPPP).

Maybe the initials confused everyone, but the turnout at the meeting on Wednesday evening was politely described as "poor". Quel dommage ...


House tax query? Just call Tom

SOME of the Dail's Technical Group have been most vocal in their opposition to the property tax, but one of its members, Tom Fleming, has found himself as an ad hoc expert on property valuation in his community in south Kerry.

Like many TDs, Tom has been busy helping anxious constituents to fill out their property tax forms.

As the postal deadline loomed, he found himself making house calls at all hours of the night, occasionally having to simply leave his calling card (a Post-it stuck to the car windscreen of the householder) if it was too late to ring at the door.

The diligent deputy was also spotted preparing a parliamentary question on the tax for Michael Noonan – in the spirit of his late near neighbour, Castleisland hero Con Houlihan, Tom was scrawling out his question on a large sheet of foolscap paper.

No fancy dan technology for Tom.


SF's tax stance blown out of the water

THERE were many earnest statements during a debate on a Sinn Fein motion on the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday agreement, and it was all quite peaceful until Fine Gael's John Deasy decided to lob a grenade into the opposition camp.

Sinn Fein, charged the Waterford deputy, speaks out of both sides of its mouth on the topic of taxes.

"In Northern Ireland, the party supports taxes on the household, where people pay at least £500 per annum in rates. Sinn Fein is part and parcel of an administration in the North that will introduce water rates at the start of next year. Its position on water rates in the South is the reverse of its position in the North," he sniped.

"It's difficult to take seriously a politician or political party when such unbelievable contradictions pop up all over the place. Sinn Fein suits itself when it comes to real and substantive engagement and tries to have it both ways at all times."

Sinn Fein deputies were up in arms, and Cork North-Central's Jonathan O'Brien counter-attacked the following day: "Lest Deputy Deasy has forgotten, he is a member of a political party that once claimed to be 'The United Ireland Party', which makes his crass partitionist attitude all the more ironic."

Oh dear. When it comes to old enmities between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein, it's not a case of (taxed) water under the bridge quite yet.


Irish Independent