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Michael O'Doherty: Three cheers for Lucinda, the only gutsy TD among all the insufferable bores

If you're wondering where all our politicians are this week, they've all gone back to school.

Even Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, not noted for passing up the chance to relax on a sun lounger when the Dail isn't sitting, was due to make the trek to Donegal. For this is no ordinary school -- it's the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, an annual get-together where assorted bores pontificate about our problems.

And here was I thinking that in any school, the 'teachers' should be the figures of authority, commanding our respect as they impart wisdom to us pupils.

The normal rules don't seem to apply in Glenties, however, where a collection of turgid economists, incompetent politicians and businessmen on their uppers will share the secrets of their failure to a bemused audience.

Pat Rabbitte TD lecturing on 'Effective Governance' on Tuesday anyone? NAMA property developer Paddy Kelly, €350m in debt, imparting his wisdom about 'Doing Business in the Global Village' tomorrow morning?

Elephant

And for the Friday night knees-up, two of most uncharismatic men in Ireland -- Eamon Gilmore and Richard Bruton -- boring the arse off an elephant with their musings on 'Building a Republic that reflects the Ideals and Ambitions of its Founders'.

The MacGill Summer School has, however, thrown up one gem, in the shape of Lucinda Creighton, who used her lecture time to stick one to her party leader, Enda Kenny. And in so doing she drew the biggest -- make that the only -- cheer of the week from the good people of Ireland.

In pointing out the folly of allowing a NAMA'ed property developer Michael O'Flynn to rub shoulders with the Fine Gael leadership by paying €1,500 (of what is now our money, don't forget...) to take part in the party's golf fundraiser last weekend, Lucinda showed a mixture of indignation and common sense which is sorely lacking amongst Irish politicians.

The sheer hypocrisy of political parties when it comes to these kind of events is astonishing. They claim that they're innocent and necessary fundraisers, and that no favours are offered in return for the donations.

Favouritism

Yes they are -- a round of golf for one thing... And probably a nice dinner and a few stiff ones afterwards, with a chance to have an 'innocent, social chat' with the party leaders. Why can't they simply ask the donor put a cheque in the post?

And if the parties feel that this simply won't work, that there has to be something in it for the donors, well why not go to the opposite extreme?

Instead of these thousands of individual donors that you've got to please, and yet not seem to show special favouritism towards, why not just go blatantly commercial, and get one official sponsor?

It works for sporting events, awards ceremonies and TV shows, so why not political parties?

In return for blatant favouritism towards one company, we'll be saved the sight of TDs schmoozing drunk, obese farmers at race meetings, and smug property developers on golf courses.

And judging by the state of Enda Kenny at his Golf Classic, there's a potential sponsor well known to him he could approach straight away. Guineys Menswear.

Titanic could finally sink Jim Mansfield

More woe has been heaped upon the Mansfield family, already reeling from having their prized Citywest Hotel and Country Club placed in receivership two weeks ago.

A man who apparently did business the old-fashioned way, Jim Mansfield Snr stands head and shoulders above most of the flash, greedy property developers currently facing financial ruin.

They say he put his money where his mouth is, re-investing the profits he made in his own ventures, and while the debt he owes is sizeable, he's one person the taxpayer won't be stuck with bailing out through NAMA.

But in the past few days, he's faced further action from RMS Titanic Inc, the company that owns artefacts from the Titanic that were exhibited in Citywest for the first six months of this year. The company now says it's owed over €1m in fees for the exhibition.

It's ironic, I guess -- the Titanic possibly making a company go under. And it's also particularly appropriate that the famous ship and Citywest should be linked in this way.

After all, one of them was a feat of engineering, bigger than anything seen before -- the product of one man's dream that could accommodate thousands of travellers and was made to charge full steam ahead into uncharted waters, ignoring calls to be cautious and slow down, and was ultimately sunk by an obstacle that no one on board saw coming.

And the other was the Titanic.

On yer bike, you nudists

Going naked in public, and riding a bicycle, are two of my least favourite things, so how good it was for Cork to bring the two things together on Monday, and hand me some fodder on a plate. 'Chafin' Hell' is a headline that I don't think's been yet used, but certainly comes to mind at the sight of 50 early risers (the event took place at dawn) cycling buck naked for half an hour through Cork city centre for the Irish leg of the World Naked Bike Ride event.

The aim of the event, above, other than to the seriously endanger the contestants' potential to reproduce, was "to raise awareness of road safety and oil dependance, while promoting body acceptance." Well, laudable as those aims are, I can't help the feeling that all the photos of this dreary little event did was remind everyone how unattractive the average human form is, especially when you've got a saddle stuck up your arse.

Stephen from Dunshaughlin was quoted as saying "nakedness is usually a private thing but this was so normal, people were really comfortable".

Somehow, I don't think so...


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