Diary - 30 May 1985 - Sinn Fein, ICI, Charles Haughey, Dail Committies
SINN FEIN LAUNCHED ITS campaign for the local elecctions at a press conference in Dublin on 22 May attended by Gerry Adams MP, Danny Morrison, member of the Northern Assembly, and 16 candidates from the Dublin area.
Sinn Fein had just won 59 seats on local councils in the North, becoming the largest party on two of them, Ferrmanagh and Ornagh. It has 28 sitting councillors in the South, including members of nine county councils. It has nominated 122 candidates for 136 seats throughout the South.
RTE were not there to cover the opening of the cammpaign of probably the fourth largest party in the state and the only one with a signifiicant presence north of the border. Section 31 would not have prevented them filming the event so long as they did not actually speak to any of the participants. It would have made up for the fact that Sinn Fein, unlike its opponents, will not get any air time for election broaddcasts.
The other media were there alright, but they did not seem very interested in the local elections. All they wanted was Gerry Adams comments on the Newry bombing. When this reporter asked about Sinn Fein policy on local government issues the assemmbled media shifted uneasily in their seats and quickly got back to asking if Sinn Fein in tended to use the" Armalite in the South.
Actually they had prooduced a nine-page document on local government issues including some interesting points. They support publicly owned co-educational multiidenominational schools, for instance. They oppose the sale of council houses. They criticise the crime hysteria. Spike Island and the Crimiinal Justice Act. They back halting sites and housing for travellers. They oppose service charges. The "armed struggle" in the North rates one paraagraph in the document - the last.
Gerry Adams said they were making only a modest input in this election. They would be content to hold their 28 seats and perhaps win a few more. Gerry Adams seems to be a modest" man. He said he would be content with 30-35 seats in the North. He got 59.
Sinn Fein is hoping for one or two seats on Dublin Corporation which would help them "to break into the mainstream of political life'" in the South - Gerry Adams' phrase. Christy Burke who beat the Labour Party into fifth place in the Dublin Central by-election in 1983 has hopes in the North Inner City area. And Harry Fleming, jailed for his part in the 188month long fight to save the Ranks flour mill, is hopeful in Finglas. Michael Farrell.
Coming Up Roses
AIB HAVE JUST BUILT A new rose garden at Bankcentre in Ballsbridge. But if it was not quite blooming for the bank's announcement of reesults last week, then the smiling executives made up for any lack of floral exubeerance.
One hack who arrived early - his head filled with questions about the ICI colllapse - forgot his Hermesetas, " but received his sugar substiitute in a gold plated box late of J ammets and the Russell but now retained for AlB's top brass.
The box and lis proud owner, Michael, bedecked in black, are retained for the executives who live on the airy top floor of Bankcentre. These are the men who bought ICI and handed it over to the State,
Chief Executive Gerry Scanlon's verdict on the colllapse which could leave the taxpayer with yet another unnwanted (lossmaking) gift "We are diligently pursuing ICI's auditors at the time of the collapse." The jury was out and he knew of no presssure for changes at board level as a result of the fiasco,
The assembled hacks who had the temerity to suggest that AlB shareholders had esscaped unscathed were told that little old ladies and pennsioners who held shares had lost out.
Next time your local bank manager goes for you over being twenty quid overdrawn think of the rose garden and the statement from Gerry Scanlan that he was not aware of any pressure of any sort for anyone to resign over the fiasco.
Ready Steady Ouch!
FORMER OLYMPIC HERO Ronnie Delaney had a narrow escape when 700 runners allmost trampled him to death at last week's Christy Brown 10k road race in aid of the "National Association for Cerebral Palsy. Not so lucky was Jimmy 0 'Brien, President of Crusaders Athletic club who was doubly unfortunate in shooting himself with the starting pistol and collapsing on the ground as the runners took off.
Delaney was at the Sandyymount starting line to get the race underway but the startting pistol would not work for him. Jimmy 0 'Brien took the pistol to ascertain the problem when it exploded suddenly, damaging the Cruusaders' hand and bringing him to the ground.
The 700 assembled runners unaware of the drama close by, took the signal and began the race clambering over the unfortunate 0 'Brien who had fallen in shock suffering burns from the gun shot. Delaney, as befits an Olympic chammpion, dived for the footpath escaping the mass of athletes and leaving 0 'Brien to his fate.
Luckily the injuries were not too serious and 0 'Brien was released from hospital soon afterwards. Members of Crusaders who helped orgaanise the race with Southside newspaper were last seen drawing up a short list of politicians who will be innvited to start the road race next year.
1: ONE LINE THAT WENT ~ unreported from the ding dong "debate" between Garret FitzGerald and Charles Haughey over the American trip in the Dail was FitzGerald's defence of the fund Q raising activities of FF in the United States.
As he was about to wade through the heavy verbage of the list of influential figures he met on the trip FitzGerald quipped that there seemed to be some hostile "querying" about the fund raising activiities of what he called "that party" among those he met.
"I defended them but I have a bad conscience about it," he told the assembled deputies who were soon to hear roars about Eddie Collins' bike riding activities and the Boss's tea pot diplomacy as part of what passes in the Dail for back bench contribuutions.
When the row between Haughey and FitzGerald was over the drama was to move outside to the Press Gallery.
It took the normally effiicient Fianna Fail Press Office over two hours to get the Boss's script down to the hacks covering the duel. Frayed nerves and furious calls to the National Fondler P.J. Mara followed with the arrival of 6.30pm and still no scripts.
Few reporters had actually taken a note of. Haughey, who ad libbed much of his contribution, in anticipation of the script being down on time.
But the Boss added so much to his prepared remarks that a team of secretaries in the Fianna Fail rooms, taped the proceedings, put them on word processors, eventually providing a verbatim record of what was said.
The arrival of the over ten page script put an end to the ravings of certain scribes who warned that Haughey would never get another line if the script did· not arrive in time for the deadline.
Beyond The Pale
The Provincial Press, reviewed by Nicky Kelly
THE A-TEAM IS DRNING the youth of Ireland into "a crazy frenzy and unreality" according to Drumkeerin GAA chairman, Mr Andy Redican, as reported in the Leitrim Observer.
Mr Redican launched a scathing attack on such proogrammes as "The A-Team", "The Fall Guy", "Knight Rider", "Street Hawk", and "Hardcastle and McCormick". All of these programmes have one thing in common; car stunts, fire and violence. Mr Redican wanted to know what effect these were having on the young minds that watched them.
MT USA also came in for a bit of a battering from the vigilant Mr Redican. The GAA was suggested as one way of relieving this pro blem. "Why is there so much joyyriding we ask?" continued Mr Redican, "I say why not when daily on our screens such events as vandalism, joyriding and crime are made heroic and all in the cause of right. "
Another area with teleevision problems, though of a different kind, is Westport, where the Connaught Teleegraph tells us that the viewers are "seeing blue". Recently, an unsuspecting TV audience, was treated to an uncensored porno movie. The pictures came from a London-based pirate station, Premier, which in the past has also beamed such box office successes as "Gandhi" down Westport way. Hopefully, the citizens of Westport will not have to endure any more of this kind of thing!
A man who claimed that a quantity of poteen found by Gardai in his house was used by his wife for rubbing into an aching shoulder muscle was given the benefit of the Probation Act recently at Kells District Court, according to a report in the Anglo Celt. Felix Teelin (Junior), who vas charged with having a half-bottle of poteen in his possession, told the court that the poteen had been given to him as a gift and was used by his wife to reelieve her aching muscle.
After hearing that the poteen was 67% proof, Jusstice Clifford remarked that he had "come across worse cases". He did not specify whether this was a reference to possession of poteen or aching muscles. Justice Cliffford ordered that the bottle be forfeited and its contents destroyed.
The Roscommon Chammpion reports that there have been unsavoury discoveries in foodstuffs. The Western Health Board decided at a recent meeting to again urge the Department of Health to update archaic food laws.
Among the juicy morsels the board heard, found by public analyst Dr T.D. Feeley, were chocolate bars partially eaten by rodents and littered with rodent droppings, soup samples contaminated by live mites, breakfast cereal infessted with beetles, an insect in a tin of strawberries, a garden snail among a sample of peas, a dead wasp in a sample of apple tart, the head of a wasp in a sample of baby food and bread samples conntaining paper, string, flies, rodent droppings and hairs, bird droppings, beetles and an earwig.
An apparent case of misstaken identity down by the Noreside is reported in the Kilkenny People. Thomasstown man Thomas Gaule who was charged with driving a car without insurance claimed that he was actually driving a tractor at the time the offence was alleged to have taken place. Evidence given by the guard in the case amounted to a statement to the effect that he saw Mr Gaule drive up Thomastown High Street in a car. When he spoke to Mr Gaule, Mr Gaule was alleged to have admitted driving an uninsured car. Mr Gaule pleaded. "Not Guilty". He said "it was the family tractor not a "car," he was driving. "He could not have admitted to driving his car that day because it was off the road," reported the paper.
James Kelly said in eviddence that he was working for Mr Gaule at that time. He was "picking spuds". He had come with Mr Gaule to town that day. They had come on the tractor it seemed. The charge against Mr Gaule was dismissed.
"How did Dan's name get lost between Cromane and Tralee?" This was the question posed by Councillor Michael Begley TD in the course of a row between Councillors Teddy O'Connor and Dan Kissane at a recent meeting of Kerry County Council, reported in The Kerry man.
Councillor Kissane wanted to know why his name was not on a motion moved by Councillors O'Connor and Tom Cahill about the state of sea banks at Cromane Lower. "I signed my name to the motion at a community counncil meeting in Cromane. Why did Councillor O'Connor leave my name out?" the Councilllor asked.
Replying through the chair, Councillor O'Connor said that Councillor Kissane "signed a motion in Cromane and took it with him." Councillor Kisssane retorted: "You deleted my name out of this and don't be telling lies!"
Pre-Election Tension (PET) has started already!
Civil Servants - Keeping The Information In The Family
GUIDELINES WHICH HAVE been issued to civil servants instructing them on how to deal with the batch of Dail Committees set up by John Bruton two years ago have been causing concern to the chairman of the Dail Committees who meet inforrmally occasionally.
Instructions in the Civil Service Personnel Code are very specific on how officials, should deal with committees which are now becoming inncreasingly confident in investiigating the organisations under their wing.
The Memorandum issued to Civil Servants warns that as the Irish system of Governnment is based on Cabinet responsibility no information should be given on the followwing:
* The advice given to Minissters by their Departments.
* Inter Departmental exxchanges on policy issues inncluding advice contained in proposals submitted to Goovernment.
* The level at which deciisions were taken.
* The manner in which a Minister consulted his collleagues.
* Government decisions not previously made public except with specific Minissterial authorisation.
* Government procedures not previously made public. It also states that no inforrmation should be given on the existence or work of Government sub committees not previously made public.
Civil servants are advised to prepare a position paper on the matter under investiigation which should be issued to the Committee concerned prior to the examination of the witness.
During the cross examinaation the civil servant should use this position paper as his main source of reference. If asked to elaborate on: a point in the paper he should respond appropriately in accordance with the lines of his proposed evidence.
As a general guideline the committees should not be provided with information which would not be disclosed in Parliamentary Questions.
Semi State or Public Sector bodies under each 'Departtment should inform their relevant Department when a 'Committee requests informaation, say the guidelines.
"It is advisable that Deepartments keep in contact with their public bodies in such. cases and that the public bodies concerned suppply their Departments in advance with copies of writtten evidence as well as disscussing with them the geneeral lines of the evidence to be given," the memorandum states.
The leader of the House, John Bruton, has gone on record several times about the need to open up the enntire accountability system whereby Dail Deputies are briefed on what is going on in Government Departments and State bodies. Many of the above guidelines appear to be geared to protecting civil serrvants rather than channelling information.
ON SATURDAY MORNING May 18, the Minister for Industry, John Bruton, was interviewed on RTE Radio 1. He was asked if he wanted to make any comment on an article on the National Deveelopment Corporation which appeared in the last issue of Magill.
The article stated that the National Development Corrporation is now to be a much weaker body than was agreed between the Fine Gael and Labour Parties in the Joint Programme for Government, that John Bruton had over a period of time set about dissmantling the notion of the NDC that was contained in the Joint Programme, and that although he was the Minister responsible for the establishment of the NDC, he had very little belief in the concept.
When asked to comment on the article, Bruton said nothing about these points. Instead he said that it was the most appalling article he had seen for a long time, and that the whole article was based on poor journalistic research. This is a serious allegation.
He based his allegation on his disputing of one point in the article. We reproduced what we said was a Labour Party document upon which Bruton had written his views. Among many other points that had been handwritten on the document, was the word "Rubbish" in the margin. Bruton denied having written this word, and referred to the document as "what purports to be a Labour Party docuument". We should explain the facts.
The document does not purport to be a Labour Party document it is a Labour Party document. In January 1983, Joe Revington, special advisor to Tanaiste Dick Spring called to the house of David Grafton, former advisor to former Tanaiste Michael O'Leary. Revington asked Grafton to prepare an internal briefing document on the National Development Corporation for Spring. Graffton did this over a period of days, and personally delivered the document to theTanaiste's office.
Some weeks later Grafton received the document back, complete with handwritten comments in the margin. He was told that the document had been given to Bruton to get his views, and had been returned with the comments written on it. This is the document that we reproduced.
When contacted by Magill, John Bruton said that he may have received this document at some stage, but that he has no specific recollection of it. He said that the comments on it were not in his handdwriting. The drafter of the document is, however, adaamant that John Bruton was given this document in order to ascertain his view on it, and that when the document was returned it contained the handwritten comments that we attributed to John Bruton.
None of which is really important anyway. The main point made in the article is that the National Developpment Corporation as currenttly proposed is a much weaker body than that agreed in the Joint Programme for Governnment, and that there is a very significant difference between what was proposed in the Joint Programme and John Bruton's view of the NDC.
Get An Earful Of This
"HELLO, YOUTHLINE, can I help you?" Seventeen year-old Leslie Smith answers the telephone and then waits while the caller plucks up the courage to inquire about some of the more problematic not to mention embarrassing - facts of life. Nothing you could comfortably ask the science teacher at school.
She listens and responds, calmly, unshocked, and at 17 unshockable , "Oh no, that's no harm at all unless either of you has a sexually transmittted disease. It won't do either of you any harm."
"Well, maybe she doesn't like the idea of it. Some women don't like the idea of it. "
"No, I wouldn't say it's you personally. It's just the . idea of it's off putting to her. "
"Yes, but it's a different thing having it done to you than doing it."
And so she continues, while the other Youthline counselllors Jon O'Brien and Siobhan Nowlan stand by waiting for calls to come in on the other lines. Afterwards Leslie reo cords this call, like all the others, in the log book. May 18, 1985 ... 3.15pm ... male ... wants oral sex, girllfriend doesn't.
Youthline was set up last November by the Irish Family Planning Association as a sexual information and addvice service, by and for young people. Siobhan, Jon and Leslie are three of ten volunnteer counsellors who are at the phones on a rota basis every Saturday afternoon beetween 1 and 5.
In between calls - which average about 20 each Saturrday - they shoot the breeze, stare off into space, drink coffee, smoke more cigarettes than they should and eat chocolate biscuits and hoola hoops.
This is the service that Alice Glenn has dubbed "that sex hot-line". Jon O'Brien Ðarticulate, twenty, with a hairrstyle that would irritate the hell out of most Alice Glenn supporters - gets angry just thinking about 'the sex hottline hype. "People who ring us mainly want to know very simple things. They're the same as us, it's just that we've had exposure to the informaation. The information is availlable but it's not getting out to young people."
A casual glance through the log book shows that most of the problems worrying teenagers in the 1980s aren't very different from those worrying teenagers twenty years ago. How do I do it? How do I avoid pregnancy? Am I the right size? Will I go blind? Am I gay?
The Youthline counsellors have been trained by the IFP A to give out the informaation and refer on for speciaalist counselling when necesssary. Between them, they have a large indexed noteebook which contains everyything you always wanted to know but hadn't dreamed of asking.
Throughout the afternoon, IFP A chairman Dr Andrew Rynne stood by in case the callers required expert mediical information. Apart from the premature ejaculation call, he wasn't needed, but the Youthline policy is that a qualified medical person should be available each Saturrday, just in case.
Other than that, says Jon O'Brien, "It's peer group education." And the message from the peers is if you don't coerce anyone, and don't hurt anyone, and take full responsibility for your acctions, then anything goes. And it doesn't matter what Alice Glenn thinks.
(Youthline can be contaccted Saturdays between 1 and 5pm at 01-740723, 744133, 729574.)
IT WAS FRIDAY LAST, A good enough reason for celeebrating, pints were lowered by the dozen. Licensing laws being the spoiler they are, a couple of hours boogie in a nightclub was the only ansswer.
Off they headed, all sixteen of them, in search of fun, adventure, drink, romance and more drink, to Saints Nightclub in "Hooth ". Hooth is that coastal area of Dublin, north of the river, where Gaybo can be seen cycling up and down hills, pondering, what could have been in the USA and what is in Ireland.
All were in jovial mood upon arrival at Saints as the clamour of conversation testiified. But seeing twenty or so queueing in front of the door, being scrutinised from head to toe by these two apes, clad in monkey suits, carrying radios, with beady eyes peerring out of harsh faces, the conversation reduced to a whisper, all stood to attenntion. The queue quickly dissappeared in through the sacred door. There was only the 'grou p in question remaining, now being looked upon (or more appropriately looked down on), by these two real burly dudes.
Conversation came to a halt, breaths were held. Ruumour has it that these so called bouncers refuse addmission to anyone and everyyone they don't like the look of. You can't argue. There is no argument. There it is on the wall, a note that states the management reserve the right of admission and neat dress is essen tial.
Neat dress normally connstitutes shirt and tie and strictly no denims. In that regard the party were all fine. But alas, the apes had diffeerent ideas, "Sorry, regulars only," growled one in an abrupt, almost smug manner. Some of the group had never been on the north side of the Liffey before, never mind Hooth, so they couldn't argue that point. Ah, but three of the ladies make a pilgrimage to Saints on Saturday nights, every Saturday. But there was no talking to the apes. They may have been there before, will more than likely get in again, but tonight there was no way they were going through that door.
Our group was stunned into silence, unable to underrstand, a rare breed truly disscovered. Sixteen people, eight fellas, eight girls at four pounds per head, that's £64, plus drink inside at about £ 1 0 per head - and believe me that's not a lot of drink at the exhorbitant prices charged in these places - that's £160. They could afford to turn away a total of £224. Sure isn't the recession biting hard. Obviously not for some.
One of the group, unable to constrain his temper any longer decided that if he wasn't getting in, he was going to have a better reason than a bullshit story about not being regulars. Proceeding to query the self-appointed authority of the bouncer, he suddenly found the door being slammed in his face. Can you imagine the surprise, when the door began to bash itself agains the toe of his shoe, not just once but reepeatedly until it opened up again.
This time there were four apes standing inside. One wonders, what would have happened if the member of the group had continued to kick up a fuss, or the door for that matter. It is common belief that these guys can become very heavy handed with anyone disputing their decisions. The party didn't bother to find out.
There's one other Dublin night-club, with a name reesembling a pirate radio station, where the bouncers patrol the car parks, armed with batons and on occasion are called to the door to assist in removing infuriated groups as on this night in Hooth. Their methods of doing this - who knows? Maybe the batons are for the local dogs to fetch.
For a country that places so much emphasis on tourism, and a night-club in an area pro bably visited by every tourist to Ireland, Saints and nightclub bouncers in general aren't exactly an advertiseemerit for Bord Failte. For all the bouncers knew, the group ':, could have been dollar laden yanks over for a taste of the great Irish hospitality and welcome.
It's about time these hotel" owners and nightclub staff got their act together, before they lose their business, or for that matter their bounncers, or bouncers' hands, arms, heads ....
A YOUNG EMIGRANT; home on a holiday from Enggland, recently made a salutary visit to the Dunnes' strikers in Henry Street, and found them disillusioned at the prosspect of no decent end to the strike.
His next stop was Timmerrman's Wine Cellar in the Powerscourt Town House Centre where, on a previous visit, he had seen South Afriican wine on sale. The cellar was dark and dimly lit when he entered, sat down at one of the tables and picked up the wine list, but that didn't account for his not picking out his least favourite wines. On the list, the wines, were numbered from No 1, a French House Red at £6.30, to No 63, a Bollinger N.V. champagne, at £24.00, though, on closer examinaation. there was a blank between wines No 53 and 57. He noticed a thin strip of creamy paper, the same colour as the wine list, stuck over the numbers of the three wines. He peeled it back, saw the heading "South African ", and called a waitress.
Our friend played disapppointed, said he had heard about Timmerman's good South African wines. The waitress pacified him, the wines were still· in stock, except they had been taken off the wine list. She offered him the three wines, Roodebluem Red at £11.00, Fleur Du Cap Pinotage Red at £12.50, and the sweetly named, Fleur Du Cap Chenin Blanc at £11.00. Our friend says, "not to worry," he's only got a fiver. He is offered a glass, at little over a pound, but still retires, leaving the waitress bernused.s
We phoned Timmerman's and spoke to the assistant manager, Rosalind Devenney, who said that the wines had been withdrawn because of the Dunnes strike: A few cusstomers had made cynical comments, she said, so the owner, Bob Timmerman, has taken it off the list, since the wines aren't great sellers anyway. It's a pity, she says, since they are very nice wines, and some people come in, See them not on the wine list, leave and don't return. She says she will certainly supply the wines to anyone that specifically asks for them.
She says that Timmerman's won't be re-ordering stocks of the wine until customers' concern about apartheid dies down, but come the end of the Dunnes strike, she reckons that South African wines will be back on the wine list.
So, wine lovers, take your pick, full bodied South Afriican red, or chilled South African white - Timmerman's won't discriminate.