Back to school instead of the races

It was back to school for Fianna Fáil last week even as the nags were running and leaping at the famed Galway Races.

In another time and universe there was about as much chance of leading Fianna Fáil figures doing mea culpas at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal as there was of an empty Fianna Fáil hospitality tent down the road at the race meet.

Suffice it to say, the FF tent put anything the Bedouins ever erected in the shade, though the latter might have had a hard time finding any of that, even as the former and their pals had little trouble in indulging themselves in things that might be described as, well, shady.

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None of that this year. Fianna Fáil has rediscovered the old time religion, though not in Galway.

While the Ballybrit race meet soldiered bravely on without them, Fianna Fáil honchos including leader Micheál Martin were up the road in Glenties owning up to members of the party having engaged in dodgy behavior in the past.

Hardly news there, but Martin's appearance followed that of party senator Averil Power, who had paved the way for her leader when, earlier in the week, she had taken lumps out of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern for, according to an Irish Examiner report, "being associated with the worst breaches of ethical standards."

Martin, when he arrived at Glenties, backed Power's purgative assertion.

"I think Averil is reflecting the anger that's there among members of the party across the country. That anger is there on the ground, in terms of past behavior by some members of the party, particularly in relation to the abuse of fundraising."

Concluded the report: "Mr. Martin said however, that he is reserving his views on Mr. Ahern until after the Mahon Tribunal reports."

Still and all, IF reckons there were more than a few folks in mourning over the absence of the FF tent. Great and stirring ideas were hatched over the years under its canopy and behind its flaps.

Unfortunately for the hoi polloi beyond the door, most of them ended up on the canvas.


The Irish presidential election is on Thursday, October 27. This is just before the October Bank Holiday weekend, so perhaps the thinking behind this was something to do with the possibility of people going places for the break and not being in their constituencies to vote. Well. perhaps not.

Not so, claims Sinn Féin. The party has described the date choice as "a cynical decision" by the government.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh was carrying the flag on this one.

"This is a very cynical decision that the government has taken regarding the date of the election. It is common knowledge that mid-week elections do not suit students, in particular those who live away from home. The Union of Students in Ireland has regularly stated that elections need to be held at weekends, so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to cast their vote.

"It's clear that the government do not want students voting in large numbers, as they are worried that they will not vote for the favored establishment candidates. This is a very cynical attitude and the government should be ashamed of themselves.

"It is vitally important that as many citizens as possible are given the opportunity to cast a vote and the government should do all within their power to assist citizens in that regard," said Ó Clochartaigh.

This is all very well, but have things reached such a low in Ireland that people don't have anything else to do at the weekend but vote for a president? Begob, that's a true shocker, almost as shocking as suggesting that Michael D is part of the establishment.


This gem, dear readers, by way of the Belfast News Letter: "Loyalists in Bangor are threatening to stage a protest against their local council at the same time as the BBC's Proms in the Park concert takes place in the town.

"Last month, more than 1,000 loyalists marched through the town to voice their anger over the North Down Council's policy on bonfires and its alleged 'failure' to promote Protestant culture.

Now the group, the North Down Association of Bonfires Committees, are planning to step up their campaign by holding a so-called 'Prods in the Park' on September 10, the same night as the BBC's classical music showcase event at Castle Park, which attracts several thousand fans annually."


"Whoever the next mayor of New York is, they would be the luckiest mayor in the world if Ray Kelly was kind enough to stay on as police commissioner, because he's done a good job." City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. *

"There's no doubt that changes are required for the sake of it rather than anything else. I'm doing everything I would have done when I was winning majors, it's just something fresh is needed. You need a bit of spark somewhere. I'm not taking time off I like playing golf." Padraig Harrington after missing the cut at the Irish Open in Killarney.