| 13.4°C Dublin

Did you hear the one about the minister, the Sinn Fein TD and the Labour Senator stuck in the lift?

THE Army had to be called to the rescue at Leinster House after a group of politicians got trapped in a lift.

The Army rescuers climbed down the lift shaft in Government Buildings before finally managing to free the six politicians.

The group, which included junior minister Conor Lenihan, had desperately tried to escape, even managing to prise open the lift doors, however, hopes of freedom were dashed when they were met by a brick wall.

Officers finally managed to reach the group, who were at basement level of the building, and opened the doors on the far side of the lift, freeing the relieved group.

Conor Lenihan vowed never to use a lift in Government Buildings again.


He joked: "I'll be taking the stairs in future, I'll lose some weight anyway.

"I believe the lift periodically gives trouble. While it says it's safe for six people, I think it's really only safe for three people, but that sign's not up."

The atmosphere in the lift became hot and clammy, according to the minister, since last Thursday was such a warm day.

"It was all swift, but it was one of those warm days, and there was steam coming off the steel panels and condensation on the glass."

Mr Lenihan jumped into the lift last Thursday when he was on the way to a meeting in Leinster House with colleagues, when it broke down between the ground floor and lower ground floor levels.

He desperately tried to escape with colleagues but there was no signal from their mobile phones, and they were left trapped in the humidity for twenty minutes.

The Army was called to bail out Mr Lenihan, and his colleagues Labour Senator Dominic Hannigan, Fianna Fail's Rory O'Hanlon and Margaret Conlon, Caoimhghin O Caolain of Sinn Fein and a Government official.

Mr Lenihan remarked that everyone stayed calm while they waited for their rescuers to set them free, and that they even had a qualified doctor on board to help.

"There were five or six of us. We had our own doctor, Rory O'Hanlon, and Dominic Hannigan, the Labour Senator was there, and Margaret Conlon, the Monaghan TD. Nobody panicked. There were quite a few jokes being passed over and back."

The politicians had been on their way to a meeting to discuss the interference of TV signals by the use of the Garda Tetra system in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency.

"We were having a delegation from the Cavan and Monaghan area coming to meet me about the Garda Tetra system, which is knocking out when people are having their old aerial TVs on."


"I had to hold the meeting in the agriculture house in Leinster House because there were so many delegates attending.

"I jumped into the ministerial cabinet lift and the thing just stalled between the ground floor and the lower ground floor."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Department of Taoiseach said that the lift has since been serviced, as is routine after any incident.

He added: "There would always be routine maintenance and servicing of lifts as part of contract."