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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fingers in every pie

Our golf cup runneth over

This is a photograph of a photograph that has annoyed Pearse Doherty, the Sinn Fein TD. The ST featured the shot in a recent Atticus column, but I thought it was worth another mention here.

The original picture hangs in the members' bar of Leinster House. As the public are not allowed in this part of the Dail building, our snap was taken by a source using a mobile phone with the flash on, hence the glare over our friend in the back row, second from right. 

The photo shows the winning 1987 Oireachtas golf team being presented with the Army-Garda-Press-Oireachtas Challenge Cup (catchy title that one), sponsored by Irish Nationwide. It includes Michael Fingleton, the then chief executive of the now defunct building society. There too are Fine Gael's Austin Deasy and Tom Enright, Bobby Molloy, formerly of the PDs and Donie Cassidy, former Fianna Fail TD and senator. 

Doherty believes it is "inappropriate to have somebody of the character of Michael Fingleton on the walls of Leinster House given the damage he has caused to the country".  "It is well past time that this picture was taken down from its perch and placed in the dustbin of history once and for all," he told the Irish Independent in April. 

Doherty has also had a go at the fact that an exclusive members' bar, accessible to only TDs and senators, still exists in Leinster House. "The very notion of a private bar in a house that is meant to represent all of the people is outdated and part of the old way. Time for that to go too," he said. 

The Donegal South-West TD has told the ST he will raise his demands for the picture's removal with the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and we will certainly Watch this one with interest (see what I did there?). 

While the photograph is old, taken a long time ago and those featured could not have known then what we know now, it is nevertheless a reminder to all of the close links some businesses in Ireland make sure they forge with Irish politicians. It says a good deal about the game of golf and even more about the way in which Ireland used to, and, some would argue, still operates.

For those reasons, perhaps Doherty, instead of removing the photo, should see to it that a copy hangs in every bar in the country. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Newspaper Man: Mark Tighe
During my last post on The Sunday Times' FOI request for records of politicians lobbying for barristers and solicitors to become judges, I mentioned the information released would be worthy of a blog post on its own. 

Mark Tighe, the ST journalist who broke the story, has now written one which includes copies of the six letters from the politicians involved. It should be noted that in some cases it is obvious the lawyer in question requested these representations were made on their behalf while in others politicians seems to be responding to the wishes of third parties or colleagues of the person they are acting for. 

All the representations were made by Fianna Fail politicians. They are: John McGuinness and Willie O'Dea, two serving opposition TDs, Mary Coughlan and Jim McDaid, former ministers, Tom Kitt, a former government chief whip and Gerard Collins, former minister and MEP. 

Mark Tighe's Newspaper Man post is here.

Mark Tighe also wrote a Focus article in the ST on the appointment of judges. (Subscription required)