O'Donoghue paid €293 for meal with Howlin
LEAS CEANN COMHAIRLE 'NOT MAKING COMMENT'
WEXFORD TD Brendan Howlin who enjoyed an expensive dinner paid for by Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue two years ago, declined to comment on the scandal surrounding the Ceann Comhairle's lavish political lifestyle this week.
Deputy Howlin was invited to a working dinner by the Ceann Comhairle in June 2007 after his own appointment as Leas-Ceann Comhairle of the Dail.
It has since emerged, in the national controversy sparked by Deputy O Donoghue's extravagant expenses claims, that the dinner in Shanahan's of the Green in Dublin cost ¤ 293.
The Wexford Labour TD had no idea how much the meal cost, he said. Starters in Shanahan's, a steak and seafood restaurant, cost up to ¤ 26, while main courses average about ¤ 50.
'He invited me to dinner to go through how we would work together. I didn't know where we were going. We went to a restaurant he had booked. We went in his car. I haven't a clue what it cost. I was the guest. I'm not fixated on a dinner I had two years ago'
Deputy Howlin said he didn't recall the meal being particularly spectacular. 'I don't remember that much about it. I'm sure he ordered a nice bottle of wine. We didn't have champagne. If I'd known it had cost that much, I would have relished it more'.
The Labour TD said he had never been to the restaurant in question previously and has never been back since.
Up to his appointment as LeasCeann Comhairle, Deputy Howlin, a Labour Party spokesman on Justice, and Mr. O' Donoghue, former Minister for Justice, had been adversaries.
The Wexford TD said he had deliberately not made any comment on the recent revelations about Mr. O'Donoghue's lavish expenses and junkets paid for by the State.
'I will be in the chair when these matters arise, if they do, and I have to be impartial in relation to that', he said.
' Potentially, I could benefit from anything that happens to him. If there is a debate, I can't have said anything that would prejudice my position in the chair'.
Mr O'Donoghue has come under increasing pressure to explain his extravagant lifestyle at the expense of the State.
His Wexford-born Government colleague Dick Roche, Minister of State for European Affairs said he believed Mr. O'Donoghue was in ' a terrible dilemma'.
If Minister O'Donoghue were to resign as chairman of the Dail, Deputy Howlin would become Acting Ceann Comhairle for a short time until the election of a new candidate. AN abandoned child's BMX bicycle has been found by New Ross Gardai who are anxious to return it to its rightful owner.
The boys black Cherokee BMX was found abandoned on South Street earlier this week.
'It's a young lad's bicycle. Losing a bicycle can be a big loss to a child, especially in times like this,' said Sgt. Eddie Wilde this week.
Anyone who thinks the bicycle may belong to them should contact Sgt. Wilde directly at New Ross Garda Station.