IT wasn’t exactly Breakfast at Tiffany’s (no sex or style). Rather it was like munching cornflakes with your pants on!
The event was an €85 early-morning nosh-up at the Imperial Hotel to which more than a hundred of Cork’s greatest and good turned up. The proceeds went into the re-election pot of a largely unknown mini-minister for something or other, Dara Murphy.
In return for the privilege of breakfasting with the distinguished politico and forking out a large ‘donation’, Blueshirt enthusiasts enjoyed (presumably) a greasy fry-up of sausages, eggs, Clonakilty black pudding, ‘musherooms’, hash browns, liver (optional?), baked beans, brown soda bread and a mug of steaming tea; the full Leeside monty in other words.
Although neither this newspaper nor your humble scribe was invited, anti-water charge protesters informed us of the giggles emanating from inside the hotel during the cockcrow brekkie. Such as the old groaner joke from a lady who opted for an egg: ‘omelette smarter than I look,’ she’s reputed to have said. Not bad!
So, was it entirely a Blueshirt bean feast? Not exactly because, according to the protesters, Kilcrea builder Michael O’Flynn was spotted adding his support to Murphy’s re-election chances. O’Flynn is best known for the Elysian Tower, that half-empty monstrosity symbolising the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. And, among a throng of prominent business people, property developer Owen O’Callaghan was observed heading for the eggy bread.
‘Gosh,’ we exclaimed on receiving the info, was it possible that Cork magnates, tycoons and oligarchs had shifted their allegiance from the tried-and-trusted Fianna Fáil party in favour of Fine Gael? Was it cheerio to Mickey and in with Enda?
And, despite the historic implications surrounding political ‘donations,’ had the realpolitik of Cork FG’s involvement in the affairs of government morphed into alms collecting for front-runners who were ascending the greasy pole? And then we thought: ‘well, why shouldn’t Fine Gael cadge a few bob – particularly since the breast beating relating to “donations: very definitely belonged to the past?’
Because, as the world knows, the credibility of those Tribunals that microscopically delved into the ‘donations’ controversy has been rubbished. And that says it all!
Anyway, considering that many very respectable business types made large contributions to Fianna Fáil politicians when that lot ruled the roost (remember the fundraising tent at the Galway Races?), why shouldn’t Fine Gael do the same?
Remember too that most of those FF ‘donations’ turned out to be quite legit, dontcha know, and that it was normal behaviour to financially assist your favourite party and offer a helping hand to your very own special minister so that he could succeed all the better in public life. There was no harm in it then (of course) and there is no harm in it now (of course), thanks to Big Philly Hogan’s Electoral (Amendment) Act 2012 on political funding.
Spotless Fine Gael
As matters stand, donations received by a TD in excess of €600 must be disclosed on a special Donation Statement and the maximum amount that a TD can receive in any calendar year is €1,000. A modest estimate would suggest that the Cork junior minister raked in well over €8,000!
So let’s face facts. Led by outstanding politicos, Fine Gael is doing everything above board (of course) and is blameless and pure. The party is in for the long haul, even if after the next election they’ll be sharing power with those very shocking F&Fer desperados with whom they have so little in common when it comes to collecting bobs!
What’s more, as evidenced by the presence of high-income breakfast buffs at the Imperial, the Blueshirts are already attracting the movers and shakers who (we are led to believe) are putting the country back on its feet and creating oodles of dough for the plain people of Ireland – just as they did some years ago! And what, the pragmatist might ask, is wrong with that?
Oh, if you’d like to know more about Mini-Minister Murphy take a dekko at the YouTube clip (September 8th, 2014) in which Vincent Browne goes head-to-head with him over a misinterpretation of the economic terms GDP and GNP. Hilarious!
While we’re on the Fine Gael tack, a question must be asked: Whatever became of Our Deirdre, MEP for Ireland South and eminent authority on Cork Airport? With the future of the airport hanging by a thread, one would have expected Ms Clune to be fighting tooth and nail on behalf of those who elected her, giving it hot and heavy to a party leadership that doesn’t give a tinker’s (except for Jerry Buttimer TD) and doing her level best in Brussels to save the place.
Instead she’s been as silent as a stuffed sausage, the absence of any political sound from her contrasting eerily with the dire warnings issued by the Chambers of Commerce, tourist organisations in Munster, third-level institutions, the hotel industry and the ordinary travelling punter.
The last news we had of Ms Clune was via an email to this newspaper months ago. In it she stated she was going to meet with Cork Airport management to ‘discuss future plans for development’.
She also pointed out that she was ‘in regular contact with the Minister for Transport’ and that the following week the two of them would discuss the airport again.
Since then, nothing! She’s disappeared off the political radar – which is quite astonishing considering that once she was all for getting the ‘community behind the development of the airport, focus on building relationships with airlines and closely examine passenger demand to identify popular routes’.
Has Kenny nobbled her from speaking in defence of Cork so as to facilitate his brainwashing of the public into accepting the sale of the State’s stake in Aer Lingus?
Or is a passion that’s close to her heart – baggage handling – ruling her head? Last July she informed us that the Euro parliament had appointed her to an important committee that would look at ‘the laws and regulations around airline and airport baggage’.
Lost luggage and baggage handler strikes, you see, were causing serious problems for the EU and Our Deirdre was keen to push Ireland’s interests in relation to those matters. ‘I will work night and day to ensure that I give this piece of legislation my full commitment,’ she told The Southern Star, adding that her new role ‘would open doors in Brussels for Ireland South’s airports’.
Sadly, with the way things are going, our MEP for ‘Ireland South’ soon will have one less airport to worry about (thanks to Enda and the gang). And the signs are that Cork Airport’s doors will not be opening, but closing – permanently!