herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

Gerry O'Carroll: Relax Brian, your teeth look great...

MAYBE it's a sign of the times but I'm surprised to hear of a groom putting as much attention into his looks as his bride.

After his wedding to Pippa O'Connor, Brian Ormond was given a gentle slagging by his best man Mickey Joe Harte.

Mickey Joe joked that the TV presenter barely found time to fit the wedding into his schedule of "teeth whitening".

Mind you, you probably need it when your every move is being filmed by a crew for an RTE show, while a magazine photographer snaps for a special supplement. God be with the days of a flower in the lapel, your best work suit and maybe a swift one on the way to the church!

Do Enda's Fine Gael know their Aras from their elbow?

IT'S the Blueshirts' holy grail. For over 70 years, Fine Gael have never had a candidate nominated solely by the party go on and win the Presidency.

To do so in 2011 would be a cherished ambition finally realised. It would be a triumph for leader Enda Kenny personally, and would be the crowning achievement of his political career.

So why is his party making such a pig's ear of a simple nomination?

Kenny has had a good 12 months. Recovering from a leadership spat last summer, he led Fine Gael to massive election victory.

Winning the Presidential election would lay to rest any doubts or questions about his leadership qualities.

There has never been a better chance for Fine Gael to get their man or woman into the Aras. Fianna Fail more or less laid claim to the office in recent decades.

Disaster

But they're in tatters now, and haven't even put up a candidate at this point.

Meanwhile, a 70-year-old Michael D Higgins is shuffling up to the post for Labour. David Norris and Niall O'Dowd, among others, are also positioning themselves, likely to be on the fringes at the finish.

But this contest is Fine Gael's for the losing. And they're clearly doing their best to lose it.

It would be a disaster for them if this ultimate prize eludes them and it would also resurrect all the old doubts and questions about Enda Kenny's party leadership.

If a Taoiseach cannot get his own party house in order how is he going to weather choppy waters coming down the line?

Fine Gael is split not one, not two or three, but four ways. The party has been notorious for its infighting and internal bloodletting. Once again they seem to be on that course.

First to declare, in effect, was Mairead McGuinness, then up stepped the old hand Gay Mitchell. Then Europhile opportunist Pat Cox, ex PD and Fianna Fail, waded into the fray, much to the dismay of hardcore Fine Gaelers.

It's widely known that there's no love lost between Mitchell and Cox. But the apparent coup de grace for party unity was the arrival of FG's grand dame Avril Doyle, riding into the fray at the 11th hour.

Who else wants a shot? How about the lad who sweeps the floor at Upper Mount Street?

Doyle and McGuinness, for their part, have a history dating back to the 2004 European elections.

So with factions and feuding all over the place the omens are not looking good for unity ahead of the July 9 candidate selection ballot.

I find it amazing that the Fine Gael fixer, Machiavellian master Phil Hogan, hasn't sorted this mess out. He quickly sorted the leadership heave last summer, but where is he now?

With over a fortnight of squabbling before July 9, we're in for some serious soap opera.

I have been very lukewarm on the concept of the continued existence of a Presidency. I have stated the office was a luxury the country could barely afford.

But the work of Mary McAleese was crucial to the peace process, and to securing the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth. On foot of that, I have revised my position. Whoever wins the office of the Presidency has some serious shoes to fill.

It's time for our Taoiseach to stamp his authority on his troops before this contagion spreads in his party.

Otherwise it's Dia Dhuit a Uachtarain Michael D.

Prisoners'dole cash must be stopped

Q: HOW easy is it to get a handout in Ireland?

A: So easy that you don't even have to get up off your back as you lie in your prison cell, or on a Spanish beach.

I'm referring to reports that thousands of prisoners have been claiming benefits whilst in jail or on the run from the courts and the gardai.

One in five of our country's inmates has claimed social welfare from behind bars, according to recent figures.

Included in those figures are 381 criminals who were on the run -- and simultaneously on the scratch -- last year.

It doesn't happen often, but reading these reports left me speechless.

The country is on its knees, with rising taxes and charges causing cutbacks in A&E services, in the care of the elderly, and much more besides.

And these layabout criminals are sitting in their cells, playing PlayStation, smoking hash and effectively being paid for it?

These are the same wasters who recently refused to get out of their beds for the governor of Mountjoy Prison.

Surreal

In a further surreal twist, apparently it's up to criminals to notify the Department of Social Protection, and tell them to stop paying them social welfare.

So we're asking law-breakers to ask their dole office not to hand them cash every week? This would be laughable, if it wasn't so expensive.

It defies belief that in this technological age the Dept of Justice cannot notify the Dept of Social Protection to stop these payments. In fairness to Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, she has pledged a 'zero tolerance' crackdown.

Surely this can be easily done. And what's more, I'm sure this cash can be recovered from these criminals, by deducting it from their future payments.

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