Jude Collins

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Martin and Sean and that awkward envelope

Well – that was a debate. No need for the strong coffee or smelling salts to keep the eyes open until the end of RTÉ’s Frontline  programme with Pat Kenny.  How did they do?

1.     Higgins: he kept his head down for the most part, only raising it to go on about ‘a new Ireland’ and imagination and the arts and how he wouldn’t say anything about Denis O’Brien other than that he wouldn’t be on his list. At times he looked old (nothing wrong with that) but also a bit tired. Or maybe it was bored. Hands fidgety, eyes blinking a little more than usual. He did OK.

2.     Dana: continued her loveable-little-girl-from-Derry bit, which is of course her strongest suit. And that she’d “stand with the people”, which was fair enough. The family row thing didn’t get raised so she did OK.

3.     David Norris: he had a good night. At times he tried to force his way into the conversation and the braying note asserted itself and you – well, I – remembered what a pain in the bum he can be when he plays, is the toff. But like a team with nothing to lose, he performed in a relaxed and at times witty way. If he’d had outings like that every time he came on TV, the story would be different.

4.     Mary Davis: something of the same relaxation was to be seen in her responses, although she got a wee bit snarled up in that question about Denis O’Brien being on her committee.  I’m not totally clear on the Mary-Denis thing but I guess from last night that Denis is/was one of her backers.

5.     Gay Mitchell: cheesh. And double-cheesh. Something in Gay’s clockwork has gone seriously wrong over the past few weeks, and there were bits of his inner machinery pinging all over the studio at one point. It’s  real baffler – he’s actually a hard worker, I’m told, and some of the points he made last night and other nights were sound ones. But he just came across as a bit, um, hysterical. Null points, I’m afraid, Gay.

6.     Martin McGuinness: his best debate of the campaign by a country mile. His most impressive feat was to take over Pat Kenny’s role – he was the one that asked the questions of Sean Gallagher. Pat Kenny at one point tried to convert some reference to a knock on the door into knocks on the door in the north, but maybe half-way he realized oops, the 5 o’clock knock thing was a loyalist gang speciality rather than a republican one, and pulled back. McGuinness’s two best bits were his ‘Just answer the question, Sean’ as poor old Gallagher got panicky and started talking about being given, of all things, an envelope; and the bit where he responded to the young woman who was a typical you-up-there-should-stay-up-there Southerner. If he’d paid her (in an envelope, of course) he couldn’t have asked for a better chance to bat the partitionist ball clean out of the studio, over Dublin and into every home in the country.

7.     Sean Gallagher: near-total disaster. I say near because most of the time he did manage to sound calm, in a kind of – and I say this with no insult to our four-legged friends – bovine way. Which was good thinking, except that the occasion called for some return fire which he appeared not to have. There was an effort to make The Man With The Envelope into a fuel smuggler and mate of Gerry Adams,  but Kenny smelt blood and whacked in with wanting to know why Gallagher had invited such a miscreant to a FF-er banquet.

Will McGuinness’s man-with-envelope story sink  Sean G?  It could well do, and I’d not be surprised if tired MD Higgins didn’t break into an elfin dance of joy, once the missus pulled the curtains last night. The bookies think Higgins will win and the bookies are rarely wrong. And McGuinness will now have evidence of that leadership quality he said he brought to his presidential bid. Who’s the person everyone’s talking about this morning? Gallagher, and he must wish to God they weren’t. Who’s the other person on everyone’s lips? McGuinness, the man with the awkward question that changed the whole shape of the presidential race. And I’ll bet there was the odd roar of approval north of the border when he reminded Dublin 4 that  Derry, Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh are as Irish as Cork, Dublin and any other county on the island

It should be an interesting couple of days ahead.  


  1. Good read.

    I wasn't impressed with Higgins at all, at all. He waffled and weaved his way through the 'mandatory reporting' of a child abuse allegation question. Let the Gardai investigate these allegations I say, and don't interfere with the investigation by giving them your opinion on whether the allegations are false or not.

  2. Awkward questions; I notice no-one, not Miriam, Pat Kenny or any of the other "investigative" journalists has asked Rabbitte, De Rosa, Gilmore or any of the ex- Stickie hacks in RTE if they knew, from when they were in the forefront of the WP, the name(s) of the OIRA members who shot the RUC inspector while on a robbery in 1974. You would think it would be vital to ask these questions of people would lead the country.

  3. I wish to clarify and set the record straight in relation to the dealings I had with Sean Gallagher which resulted in my attendance at a Fianna Fail fundraiser in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dundalk, on the 1st July 2008.

    Sean Gallagher , who I had never met previous to this, contacted me by phone. He first phoned me on the 6th June 2008 and invited me to attend the above fundraiser. In the course of the call he requested a donation of €5,000.00 for Fianna Fail. He advised me that this type of fundraising would replace the annual Galway Tent Fundraiser. In return for the €5,000.00 donation I was promised a private audience with the Taoiseach and I would get a photograph taken with him.

    He told me that the Taoiseach would give an up-date on the economy in the South which in his words was 'beginning to wobble'

    On the 9th June he again phoned me to confirm my attendance . I confirmed that I would attend and was prepared to give the donation he requested. He left two mobile phone numbers for me to contact him on these numbers are 0878293028 and 0879763122.

    On the 27th June Sean Gallagher visited my business premises at Killean, County Armagh. I wrote a cheque for €5,000.00 and gave it to him personally. The cheque number is 13014. I still have the stub of the cheque , This payment is declared in my Company accounts and was cleared through my bank on the 1st July 2008.

    I then attended the fundraiser which was also attended by other businessmen from South Armagh, North Louth and across the Northeast. Sean Gallagher greeted the guests on arrival and directed us to the room at the top of the Hotel where the fundraiser was held.

    Brian Cowen gave a speech on the economy and predicted a soft landing. At the end of the night Sean Gallagher introduced me to Brian Cowen and facilitated a photograph to be taken of myself and him. Approximately one week later Sean Gallagher called back to my business and gave me the photograph.

    It is a fact that approximately fourteen years ago I was convicted of tax evasion in relation to fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland. As a consequence to that, I have repaid the Exchequer and paid a substantial fine. I was never investigated by CAB or any other agency in the Republic.

    Since that time I have developed a successful international business known as Morgan Fuels.

    I employ over eighty people in Ireland ,both North and South. I have business interests in Ireland , Britan and Europe and the Morgan Fuel card can be used up to 4,000 service stations in fourteen countries across Europe.I am also the official sponsor of the Armagh County teams of the GAA.

  4. Above is a statement given by Hugh Morgan to the media.

  5. http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1025/hughmorganstatement.html

  6. Sean Gallagher interview with Rachael English on Morning Irealand on 20/10/2011

    Gallagher: I was asked by Fianna Fail Headquarters of which I was a party member at the time in 2008 which is no secret if I would mention it to local business people which I did. 

    English: So you rang people up and invited them?

    Gallagher: No, people that I met, I explained that there was this event coming up. I have to make it very clear, I sought no money, I received no money from anybody, that was dealt with by Headquarters Fianna Fail Headquarters. I also want to make it very clear that while I attended the event I was not asked for money, I made no contribution myself in either a personal capacity or as a corporate donation either before the event, during the event, or after the event.

    English: How many people did you invite?

    Gallagher: I think I mentioned to possibly three or four people, and I have no idea to this day whether or not they made a donation whatsoever.

    English: Does this not though invite further scepticism about your links with Fianna Fail?

    Gallagher: Well I think that has been well trashed out and it's an ongoing issue that keeps coming up. I mean I have made it clear numerous times that I was involved in Fianna Fail in 2007, 2008 and for a short period in 2009.