Friday, October 19, 2007


From time to time, I've written about where we political correspondents are billeted in Leinster House. We are right at the top of the old Georgain building (the main one), on the second floor. The Irish Examiner shares a small crickety room overlooking Merrion Square with the Sunday Times, The Sunday Business Post, and the irrepressible and irascible John Lee of the Irish Daily Mail. They were once servants' quarters which means they have gone very low-rent since then.

During the summer, when nothing happens, I have often compared where we are to the Overlook Hotel. That is the remote and isolated hotel in the horror film, The Shining. Sometimes during the recess it's so quiet that the only thing that livens up the day is the hourly roar from the Vikings on the Splash tour passing on nearby Merrion Square.

Well, we were all dealt a severe blow earlier this week. We were told that we had to get out of the room and within days. No it wasn't the ShannonGate story we broke this week. It was the floor. Apparently, it's a suspended floor that was hung off the rafters sometime in the middle of the 19th century. And 150 years of more of occupaton by well-fed and self-satisfied people has made one of the beams sag to a dangerous extent.

And so, there was nothing for it but to evacuate. Today is a sad day for us because we are clearing the office, with all its shabby and fading charm. We are being relocated to a modern and functional office in Setanta House near the Kilkenny centre. It's only three minutes away from Leinster House but it feels like an aeon away. As we looked at it today, we all that the dread feeling that sitting over there we are definitely going to be out of the loop.

But there's nothing we can do about it except grin and bear it. It will keep us relatively fit as we'll have to sprint back and forth for briefings and for whatever bit of crumbs we can get from chit-chat meetings on the corridors of power!

Civil servants have resisted. But unfortunately, in spite of our best efforts, we have been decentralised.

Ok, we're still here for the last day but there's nothing much to report. The Greens will be voting in their chairperson this evening. Dan Boyle looks the favourite but there's a slight anti-establishmentarian wing in the party that want to keep the pro-Government majority in check. And I expect Bronwyn Maher to do well, though Boyle must be odds-on favourite.

Elsewhere, Bertie is giving his annual Bodenstown speech next Sunday. That's always a curious and quaint affair - men in felt hats, a lone bugle, and a Bertie speech that doesn't mention how lucky we have been to have him as Taoiseach for the past ten years.

In fact, the quality of speech at Bodenstown is always very good... so good in fact that sometimes you could imagine it could be de Valera delivering it!

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