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Leo’s Chinese lantern sparks security alert at Leinster House


On a sleepy Friday afternoon three weeks in the past, with the Dáil and Seanad in recess and people Ministers nonetheless in the entire of their well being embarking on St Patrick’s week travels, a suspect bundle addressed to Leo Varadkar sparked a safety alert in Government Buildings.

It was deemed severe sufficient to power a 40-minute closure of Merrion Street whereas the bomb squad reportedly entered the premises. Gardaí rushed to the scene and closed off the road from Merrion Square so far as the junction with Baggot Street. While employees weren’t evacuated, the entrance gates have been locked and employees have been despatched an e mail asking them to depart through the again entrance.

The Irish Daily Mail reported that the bundle was marked as coming from China and gardaí have been known as after it was X-rayed at Government Buildings. A subsequent examination revealed the contents didn’t include any harmful objects or substances.

At the time, the Government press workplace refused to touch upon the report because it “does not comment on security matters” whereas the Garda press workplace advised journalist Louise Burne: “Gardaí were alerted in relation to concerns regarding the contents of a package at Government Buildings. Following a preliminary examination, no further action was necessary.”

They didn’t verify experiences that the bomb squad was known as. The supposed recipient of the suspicious bundle was in no hazard by some means. The Tánaiste was on St Patrick’s Day obligation in Chile.

The Tánaiste is probably already serious about the refurb when he takes over from Micheál Martin as taoiseach on the finish of the yr

Since the incident, we hear there may be a lot amusement round Government Buildings about Leo’s mysterious parcel from the Orient which set off alarm bells on the safety entrance when what gave the impression to be electrical elements and wires confirmed up within the X-ray machine.

Turns out the bundle contained a brand new lamp. A really good lamp, apparently.

We have been unable to determine if the Tánaiste bought it for his Merrion Street workplace (maybe already serious about the refurb when he takes over from Micheál Martin as taoiseach on the finish of the yr) or for the newly bought gaff in Portobello.

As Tennyson might need written: In the spring, a youngish man’s fancy evenly turns to ideas of beautiful lights . . .

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly: healthy dose of scepticism prescribed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly: wholesome dose of scepticism prescribed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Pinch of salt for Stephen Donnelly’s well being report

Everything goes nice weapons within the well being service. We’ll be world-beating and world leaders very quickly, if Stephen Donnelly’s phone deal with to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary social gathering this week is something to go by.

In the course of a complete overview of developments in his division and the various initiatives he’s engaged on, the Minister for Health handled lowly deputies and Senators to a glowing progress report. He additionally wrested credit score for the pioneering however ill-fated Mother and Child Scheme within the late Nineteen Forties from Dr Noel Browne and gave all of it to Fianna Fáil.

We perceive some TDs had massive pinches of salt at hand whereas listening to the Minister’s rundown of the sterling efforts beneath manner and the various tough points which nonetheless should be resolved. But relaxation assured, their man is toiling “relentlessly”, notably within the space of ready lists, diagnostics and marketing consultant recruitment.

While he has been doing “huge, huge” work, he additionally praised Ministers of State Mary Butler and Anne Rabbitte for additionally “doing incredible work” within the areas of psychological well being and incapacity. They, after all, are members of Fianna Fáil, however he graciously remembered the opposite junior minister, the one who bats for Fine Gael. “A very good guy, Frank Feighan”, apparently.

In the course of parping the ministerial trumpet, Stephen, who jumped ship from the Social Democrats to Fianna Fáil in 2017, provided some historic perspective to his viewers of dyed-in-the-wool Soldiers of Destiny.

Over the years, regardless of challenges, he stated the social gathering made big variations to the standard of Irish healthcare, citing the last decade ranging from 1997, when toddler mortality fell and the nursing diploma and the smoking ban was launched.

He then moved on to listing the very many achievements beneath his personal watch. While there may be a lot unfinished enterprise and a few severe challenges to deal with, there may be “a lot to be proud of in terms of the national effort”, he stated.

However, the actually, actually necessary launch this yr is the ladies’s healthcare plan. The Minister advised his enraptured listeners that this plan is “probably the biggest single evolution of women’s healthcare since the mother and baby [sic] scheme”.

And that could be a scheme, he advised colleagues, “which Noel Browne gets the credit for” when truly the earlier Fianna Fáil authorities drafted the Health Act. He stated it wasn’t even carried out by Browne’s inter-party administration, with out explaining the essential explanation why. The Fianna Fáil authorities which got here subsequent carried out it, he crowed.

Hardly a feather within the cap because the Minister omitted that necessary technical bit about it being significantly watered down because of the identical authorities bowing to clerical stress.

Anyway, within the space of ladies’s well being, he’s doing “a really big push”.

Super Doolan strikes on

Teresa Doolan, the primary girl to carry the distinguished place of superintendent of Leinster House, is shifting on to pastures contemporary after two years within the put up and taking on a brand new job inside the Department of Justice.

Clerk of the Dáil and head of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Peter Finnegan, pays tribute to her in his newest employees bulletin.

“Teresa has been a brilliant addition to our team; a calm, efficient and highly effective superintendent who brought a new outlook to the position. We are sad to see her leave us and her expertise will be greatly missed,” he writes, including that it was “an immense pleasure” to work along with her and wishing her each success in her new position.

The civil servant was previously Enda Kenny’s non-public secretary when he was taoiseach, and she or he transferred to the Oireachtas workforce in Leinster House from the human assets unit within the Department of the Taoiseach.

As head of the superintendent’s unit, Doolan was in command of all safety features regarding the Dáil and Seanad, in addition to the infrastructure and lodging wants of TDs and Senators. She made a break with custom on her first day within the job – historically the protect of ex-army officers – when asking ushers to name her Teresa as an alternative of utilizing the standard and formal “superintendent”.

There is speak in Leinster House that her predecessor, Paul Conway, who moved to Brussels because the Oireachtas consultant on the European Parliament, could also be drafted in as a short lived alternative whereas Derek Dignam, head of communications and worldwide relations, has additionally been talked about in dispatches.

Teresa’s departure implies that two key safety positions in Leinster House at the moment are worryingly vacant. John Flaherty, former stalwart of the Oireachtas Golf Society whose proof to the Golfgate courtroom case in Galway in January was praised by Judge Mary Fahy, completed up as captain of the guard in 2020.

Dáil’s drama kings and queens

It ought to come as no shock to listen to that politicians in Leinster House have been broadly in favour this week of Norma Foley’s plan to introduce theatre, movie and drama research to the Leaving Cert syllabus, given the quantity of drama queens and outdated hams populating the benches on all sides.

Former Fianna Fáil TD turned disaffected Independent Marc MacSharry was a number one mild in Sligo novice dramatic circles earlier than scaling new theatrical heights in Kildare Street, whereas Fine Gael junior minister Hildegarde Naughton is a classically skilled soprano; her Eliza Doolittle and Calamity Jane are nonetheless fondly remembered in Galway Musical Society circles.

Malcolm’s credit embody the position of Juan Perón in Evita, Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance and the Cowardly Lion within the Wizard of Oz

Another paid-up member of the luvvie brigade is Wexford-based Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne, who’s treading the boards subsequent week in Gorey Musical Society’s manufacturing of The Sound of Music. The present opens with a Sunday matinee tomorrow and can run nightly till Saturday’s two-show finale. Tickets are promoting quick, with restricted availability for some reveals. Malcolm’s credit embody the position of Juan Perón in Evita, Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance and the Cowardly Lion within the Wizard of Oz.

He is enjoying Admiral Von Schreiber (who forces Captain Von Trapp again into the Navy) on this week’s present. A minor position, which leaves him free to affix the refrain for the waltzing scenes.

Security analyst Tom Clonan secured a seat in the Seanad this week. Photograph: Norma Burke/PA Wire
Security analyst Tom Clonan secured a seat within the Seanad this week. Photograph: Norma Burke/PA Wire

Meanwhile, talking of Senators, we should congratulate Tom Clonan for triumphing within the Seanad byelection and taking Ivana Bacik’s vacant Trinity seat after what become a nailbiting contest within the ultimate counts. The former Army captain, who turned whistleblower following his analysis into intercourse abuse within the Defence Forces, is a incapacity campaigner and a well known commentator on defence and safety issues.

Members of the Upper House at the moment are questioning how their colleague on the Labour panel, lance corporal Gerard Craughwell (particular speechifying ops), will deal with not being the Seanad’s solely authority on nationwide safety and soldiering. Obviously, he’ll nonetheless be the main one. And he can present younger Clonan the ropes.

Plurilingual reward

Malcolm’s social gathering colleague and namesake Thomas Byrne, the Minister of State for European Affairs, was trying very happy with himself on Tuesday. There have been two causes: he wasn’t carrying his arm in a sling anymore following an unlucky funeral-related harm; and he had simply returned from a convention organised by the French embassy the place he spoke in 4 languages: English, Irish, French and Italian.

The ambassador, His Excellency Vincent Guérend, was so impressed he tweeted due to the Minister in the identical 4 languages for his dedication to “plurilingualism, a key driver of the EU citizenship”.

Thomas addressed the convention on the theme of “Inspiring plurilingualism: stakes and perspectives in Europe”.

Is Byrne a plurilinguist? We’re undecided, as he had a script, however we think about if any TD have been to name him one within the Dáil the Ceann Comhairle would possibly boot them out for inappropriate use of language.

As for the aforementioned sling, the TD for Meath East confessed to us that he tripped within the church whereas on his strategy to prolong his condolences to a constituent and suffered a slight fracture to his arm. Politics is a harmful occupation.



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