AFTER the appalling Paul Murphy, we were dozing fitfully in the scratcher last Monday morning hearing the distant voice of Mary Loud McDonald, the Sinn Fein TD deputy leader on Morning Ireland.
Drifting in and out of sleep, we heard the words: “The retirement... very belatedly as it has been, is another opportunity to affect the root and branch change and a radical overhaul... Position has been untenable for some time.
“I am very glad... has done the right thing. Only a person who is untouched and uncontaminated by scandal after scandal... a new broom to sweep clean...
“The issue of leadership at the top is essential.”
And we fell asleep with the soothing belief that after half a century, well it seems like this, Sinn Fein had developed a bit of backbone and Gerry Adams had reluctantly been forced out as Life President and Mary Loud had been ‘elevated’, to use the buzz word of the week.
But like the subject of the ballad Spancil Hill, we awoke to find that she was speaking about Noirin O’Sullivan and not the great leader. What a pity.
****** THE season of book launches is upon us and probably the award of Title of the Year already goes to Alan Shatter, the former Minister for Justice, who launches his book Life is a Funny Business in Dublin next Tuesday.
The solicitor, who was pushed out of office by Enda Kenny as one of the side-effects of the Maurice McCabe/Whistleblower affair, should have some very interesting things to say about politics, his former friends in Fine Gael and the media, if our reading of his mood is anything to go by.
The last time we sat down to talk to him he didn’t pull any punches and we don’t expect his book will either. It will be launched by retired judge Bryan McMahon — and, no doubt, has been well legalled by publishers Poolbeg.
Also coming out soon is Michael Cullen’s Heard It Say, a collection of quotes and one-liners illustrated with topical cartoons by Aidan Dowling.
It contains gems like: “The Irish media is obsessed with contrarianism and loudmouths” – Irish Times columnist Una Mullally; and the following alleged exchange:
Brian Lenihan Snr: “Boss, I’ve often thought you’d make a great cardinal.”
“Cardinal? Why would I settle for that?”
****** THE story of Alfie Byrne is telling for a number of reasons, mainly that anyone can get to the top but no matter how long you’re there, you are soon forgotten.
Ten times Lord Mayor of Dublin, his name hardly rings a bell in modern Ireland, although this neglect has now been rectified with the publication of Trevor White’s new biography Alfie, which in racy prose tells the story of the life and times of the colourful Dubliner.
Trevor, who founded the Little Museum of Dublin, has certainly brought Dublin ‘town’ and its cast of characters back to life.
From a working class background near The Five Lamps, Alfie Byrne left school at 13 to work in a bicycle shop and through charm, energy, bravado and a mania for shaking hands, anybody’s hand, he bought a pub in Talbot Street at the age of 28.
He then entered politics, as many of the publicans of that era did (the Cosgraves included) becoming the best known politician of his generation, and because of his extensive travels, particularly in the US, earning the title Lord Mayor of Ireland.
We won’t labour the story here, suffice to say that when he died, thousands lined the streets to say farewell to a man who greatly added to the gaiety of the city.
Anyone who wants to know more can get the full story in Alfie, including his brush with Mae West in Hollywood along the way.
****** THE Corrections & Clarifications section of the Irish Times carried a very abject item last week: “An article in the edition of September 2nd last, an interview with Eamon Dunphy, contained a reference to Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor of RTE, which was unfair, untrue and wrong.
“The Irish Times acknowledges and regrets the serious offence caused to Mr Gorman.” Not much doubt there. Separately, the Irish Times has had to deal with the ongoing dispute with its long-standing Rome correspondent Paddy Agnew going public.
So happy was he with support from colleagues in the wake of reports of his departure from the newspaper that he tweeted: “I most humbly say “Thank You” to all those of you out there in Tweeter Land who have sent messages of solidarity re my I. Times ‘hassle’.”