It’s a shame former European Commissioner Phil Hogan was unable to reach Glenties for the annual MacGill Windfest this year.
We all know how much Big Phil loves to be around when he’s back in Ireland.
But he seems to have recovered well after his disastrous summer golf odyssey in Ireland – the unalloyed high point would be that if he hadn’t lost his job, he would have won a George Foreman grill on the Oireachtas Golfgate Society’s Covid excursion in Connemara would have ended up in Europe. He was in good shape and delivered his web address to the bleak political “summer school” that migrated online for this year.
Hogan’s pleasant mood was commendable, given the developments in Brussels regarding his former boss Ursula von der Leyen and her meanders far and wide during a pandemic, although she was supposed to isolate herself.
Big Phil has good reason to be annoyed about having to resign from his job as trade commissioner for attending the golf dinner. The EU President accepted his resignation and said she expected members of the Commission to be “particularly vigilant in compliance with applicable national or regional rules or recommendations”.
Last week, von der Leyen abruptly gave up Thursday’s European Council meeting to self-isolate because an employee tested positive for Covid. But while she was in quarantine, she fell completely off the radar. No news of her whereabouts.
This week journalists in Brussels finally managed to solve the riddle of the missing Ursula and to appreciate the information from a vague-sounding speaker. The Commission President lives in the Berlaymont building in Brussels, but fled to her hometown Hanover, a five-hour drive from Belgium, through the Netherlands and on to Germany. This was not reported to the media.
Your spokesman insisted that von der Leyen followed all the rules and went into “preventive self-isolation”, which is not to be equated with quarantine. She left the EU summit just before she was supposed to “cautiously” update leaders on Brexit talks with Britain and protect the other leaders, which would indicate a level of concern about their situation.
Apparently von der Leyen, who tested negative for the virus, traveled to Hanover in a company car with precautionary measures. The spokeswoman isn’t sure when she’ll be back.
Big Phil has to wonder why Brussels didn’t understand its plight so well.
Never mind. He’s now pursuing other job opportunities, he told Prof. Brigid Laffan, who interviewed him online from Italy.
But there is no rush for Phil.
His last lap at MacGill was in 2018. “A lot has changed since then, and 2020 was definitely a year like no other – not least for me!” He quipped.
At the end of the session, the Florence-based scientist asked the former commissioner what he was up to next.
It looks like there is more golf on the horizon. Big Phil is taking a “little break” for the first time in 38 years and does nothing for the rest of the year.
But the phone didn’t stop ringing.
With his priceless network of political contacts and his international experience at the highest level, he knows that he is a marketable good.
“I had a lot of contacts from all over the world from different people who wanted to talk to me. I only advised them to submit their contributions and I will take a closer look – but not until January 1, 2021. “
It is not for nothing that he is not known as Humility Hogan.
“So if you know someone in the Italian region, Brigid, who is interested in a man with vast experience and a good address book, I am your man.”
Micheál’s political guru takes the step across the Liffey
Wanted Policy Wonk on Merrion Street.
Must be able to get along with Cork people.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is a man in his inner circle after Fianna Fáil’s special adviser and research director Kevin Dillon left to work for the Minister of Housing, Darragh O’Brien. Dillon was a key member of the party’s negotiating team following the last two general elections, and it was no surprise when Martin named him an adviser after his appointment.
Kildare-born politician Dillon will be very interested in the upcoming US presidential election, which he attended in his younger years in the Capitol Hill office of then Senator Barack Obama.
Convincing him to cross the Liffey from government buildings to the Customs House was a smart move by the minister: Dillon graduated from TCD with a world class degree in history and politics before moving to UCD for his Masters in Regional – and complete town planning. Last year, when O’Brien was spokesman for housing, he decided to collaborate with Dillon on writing a book on home ownership in Ireland, but when he presented the idea to publishers it was rejected.
Obviously it was just a coincidence that Darragh came up with the idea of producing his book on housing from the very well received and widely distributed book on social housing by Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin.
Terrible bad timing for Darragh, even if some people rudely thought that Eoin’s successful work might have something to do with the decision to get a Fianna Fáil version out and the subsequent failure to print it.
“Kevin knows his apartment inside out,” admitted a colleague in government buildings. “It was a good poacher from Darragh, but we will miss him here.”
Also on the move is former Fine Gael Junior Minister Paudie Coffey, who lost his seat in Waterford in 2016 and was given a seat in Seanad Éireann as one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s nominees. He announced last December that after 20 years he would get out of politics to spend more time with his family.
Paudie was embroiled in a high profile court lawsuit last year when he sued the Kilkenny People of defamation over an article published in the 2016 election campaign containing comments from party colleague John Paul Phelan, who issued a press release speaking with an infamous 18th century raiders from the area were compared in a series about border changes in their adjacent constituencies.
The jury was unable to pass a judgment and the case was subsequently settled.
Coffey teamed up with former advisor Paul Fox when he was junior secretary of housing to set up Pinnacle Public Affairs, “a new consultancy that brings together over 30 years of experience in public affairs, public policy development and enforcement, and strategic communications “. . Fox worked as a special adviser to Helen McEntee when she was Minister of State for Europe.
“Pinnacle Public Affairs is based in Ireland and has an extensive network at local and national government levels in Ireland and at EU level. Founded by former Irish Minister Paudie Coffey and Irish Government Advisor Paul Fox, the company aims to achieve our customers’ goals: to understand their goals; Development of tailor-made solutions; and address the appropriate target groups for maximum success. “
Somehow I don’t think they’re going to get John Paul Phelan to help write press releases.
He wrote the book on Irish politics
Our former political editor Stephen Collins still wrote a book.
Our Noble Struggle is a fascinating tale of Irish socialism and republican activism with an engaging preface by Gerry Adams and notes by Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger on the dust jacket.
Saving the State – Fine Gael from Collins to Varadkar is co-written by Collins and Ciara Meehan, a historian who is a leading authority in the party.
Saving the State tells through the lens of its leaders and Taoisigh (former Taoiseach, current Tánaiste and waiting Leo Varadkar) a lot about the wilderness years and the successes in government, the defeats and crises, the partnerships and the leadership upheavals that Fine Gael over the decades have shaped.
Dr. Dave gave a thumbs up.
“An excellent, insightful, and balanced look at the ups and downs in the tumultuous history of Fine Gael,” writes historian David McCullagh, author of De Valera: Rise and De Valera: Rule. He also moonlighted an evening in RTÉ and anchored the Six-One News together with Caitríona Perry.
Irish Times columnist Collins has written numerous books on Ireland’s political history, including The Cosgrave Legacy, Spring and the Labor Party, The Haughey Files, and Breaking the Mold – How the PDs Changed Irish Politics.
Ciara Meehan is a history reader and dean at the University of Hertfordshire. Her books include The Cosgrave Party: A Story by Cumann na nGaedheal, 1923-33 and A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-1987.
Saving the State hits stores (which are open) this Thursday and is available now at your favorite local online booksellers who need all the support they need to stay afloat for retailers during this dire time.
No hands on the water because of Covid
The list of victims of the pandemic continues to grow.
Save a thought for all of the TDs and Senators who are members of the many inter-parliamentary friendship groups at Leinster House. These are the mini-committees of the members of Dáil and Seanad who maintain friendly relations with politicians from other parliaments around the world.
Usually one or three trips were involved to establish facts and encourage better understanding. Canada, China, New Zealand, Spain, Russia, Croatia, Iran, Australia. . . Many of them.
But no trips abroad are foreseeable. It’s a shame.
It came as a surprise to us that the Irish-American parliamentary friendship group was only formed last year. Needless to say, Kerry-based Senator Mark Daly, the Commander in Chief of the Irish Americans on Capitol Hill, was a leading light in its establishment. The body works between the Oireachtas and the US Congress and has two convenors, one from the Seanad and one from the Dáil.
Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe and Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne were appointed Irish Co-Convenors this week to fill the vacancies of former TD Frances Fitzgerald, now MEP, and Daly, who was elected Seanad Cathaoirleach earlier this year, to occupy.
Or spokesman Daly, as he is called in DC.
The US co-organizers are Congressmen Richie Neal and Peter King. Covid wants, Neal will come to Ireland next year at the invitation of the Oireachtas.
McAuliffe and Byrne are no strangers to US politics. The two Fianna Fáilers first met in 2007 as part of a Boston College Young Political Leaders program and spent time between Boston and Washington DC.
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