Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - LIAM COLLINS

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’.”

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