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Colm Tobin: What’s the hot topic at White House dinner, Keith Cronin’s Rally win?

March 22nd, 2024 12:00 PM

Colm Tobin: What’s the hot topic at White House dinner, Keith Cronin’s Rally win? Image

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WHAT a difference a week makes. Only last week, the government was still picking up the pieces of a disastrous double referendum. This week, they got to run for the hills, only for Leo Varadkar to drop a bombshell on Wednesday.

The mass ministerial exodus for Paddy’s Day saw politicians leaving the shamrock shores for far-flung locations to spread the good news about Ireland and our juicy tax structures to anyone who would listen.

Mr Varadkar got the bones of a full week hanging out with Joe Biden and his pals on Capitol Hill, the sort of access the rest of the world would kill for.

This was topped off when he attended the exclusive Gridiron Club dinner, where he sat on the same table as the US president and Amazon founder and gazillionaire Jeff Bezos.

It was a far cry from a week ago when the government had its arse handed to it by a very cranky electorate. So officials surely welcomed the power of diddley-idle distraction inherent in the Paddy’s Day frolics.

Other diners on the Taoiseach’s table included vice president Kamala Harris, her husband Douglas, Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas, CIA director Bill Burns and US army chief of staff General Randy George, which is not a bad line-up for a dinner party in all fairness.

What on earth do they talk about at such things? Putin’s miraculous ‘election’ victory and faux parade in Moscow? Keith Cronin’s historic win in the West Cork Rally? Drug busts and missing motherships in Leap?

Leo seemed to be pushing on an open door with his public comments criticising Israel’s behaviour amid the unfolding disaster in Palestine, with many in the US top echelon also calling for a ceasefire.

Too little too late, you would have thought but Leo played a difficult situation well, which is in stark contrast to how things are going generally in his current government.

The mini-crises seem to be unending these days and there are now big stumbling blocks coming down the tracks that are likely to pull the coalition partners further apart.

There is the continuing furore over RTÉ and Catherine Martin’s handling of it. There is the upcoming controversial hate speech bill that Helen McEntee is attempting to bring forward.

There are concerns that the vague wording could leave religious groups and those who hold certain views on transgenderism and abortion open to prosecution on the grounds of hate speech.

And there is the constant drip-feed of worrying news about how asylum seekers are being treated on the streets of the capital.

That’s before you even consider the general cost of living crisis, the sluggish construction rates and Ireland losing to England in the last minute in the rugby.

As he sat there with the great and good (and the not-so-good) in Washington, it was surely on Varadkar’s mind. Perhaps he picked the perfect time to announce his decision to step down.

Kate watchers in a royal tizzy

While West Cork was festooned with green in celebration of the Welsh lad, and the smell of burnt rubber pervaded as this year’s epic rally continued to rage around the backroads, things were decidedly less ideal for the poor ‘aul royals across the pond.

After it was revealed that Kate Middleton, or somebody in her entourage, had been doctoring family photos released to confirm her wellbeing, the internet, the UK redtops and most of the Western world were losing their minds with conspiracy theories to find an answer to the question ‘Where is Kate?’

There were rumours of a Brazilian buttlift gone wrong. That she had fallen into a black hole during the Willy Wonka experience in Glasgow.

That she was abducted by aliens and a crack team of space entrepreneurs, led by Jeff Bezos, were forming an international team to rescue her.

This may explain why Leo was at that dinner in Washington, given his professed passion for the film Love Actually.

Perhaps that’s why the army and the navy were missing in the search for drugs off West Cork?

Parade takes precedence

Er... No, actually. The reason there was no navy shop available for the shenanigans in West Cork last weekend was far more prosaic. It turns out that the LÉ George Bernard Shaw were on St Patrick’s Day duties in Dun Laoghaire.

So while gardaí and Naval Service personnel were scouring the ocean for any sign of a multimillion cocaine shipment, locals and tourists in south Dublin had the opportunity to tour our only active naval vessel which was docked in Dun Laoghaire harbour. You couldn’t write it, lads.

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