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23 August 2007 Edition

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Letter to the Taoiseach

You might have gathered that I have been smarting a bit about the Meath victory over Tyrone in the All Ireland Quarter Final a couple of Saturdays ago. That might explain why I did not bother to engage you before or after the Dublin/ Derry match.  In a way, smarting is a bit like huffing.
Did I tell you that on the Wednesday before the Tyrone/Meath match, I telephoned Conor Ferguson from Kells to hear what he thought of Meath’s chances? I then had the cheek to strike a deal with him. You will know, Taoiseach, that Conor serves as a Sinn Féin Councillor on Kells Town Council. You probably supported Conor’s father Des when he played at Senior Inter-county level himself.  
I believe that Des excelled at both Hurling and Football. More recently, Conor’s brother Terry won All Ireland medals playing for Meath, as I understand it.  Apologies for this wee bit of indulgence but as I said at the start of this letter, some of us have been smarting a bit and are currently experiencing ‘the tremendous silence’ of mid-summer as Patrick Kavanagh described it.
Oh aye, I made the mistake of agreeing a pact with Conor Ferguson. If Tyrone got to the All Ireland Final, Conor might help me to secure a ticket. Or if Meath got to the All Ireland Final, I would do my best for him. I have Conor’s mobile number stored in my mobile and it had rung a few times since. I hadn’t the heart to answer him. What kind of agreement about tickets did you reach with Martin McGuinness before the Dublin/Derry match?
Anyway, neither Conor nor I have any further ticket pressure to concern us following on from Meath’s defeat at the hands of the Rebels.
Did you get to any of the events at this year’s Féile an Phobail in West Belfast?  The programme promised many highlights. I, myself, wanted to attend the Barry Douglas concert in Clonard Monastery.  High brow arts are popular in the Falls too, it would appear. I was able to attend a brilliant event which was held at Whiterock Leisure Centre. It was a Funday organised by Cumann Spoírt an Phobail, a community voluntary organisation based in Ballymurphy.
The organisers invited myself and Professor Eric Saunders, the Chairman of Sport NI to come along and meet a variety of sporting heroes from the Ballymurphy and Upper Springfield area of Belfast. Eric’s son Rob had the distinction of playing rugby for Ireland. I enjoyed the privilege of introducing Gerard McWilliams and his friend Conor who are both Special Olympians. Next up was Ryan Lindburg who boxes for Immaculata located in the Lower Falls.  Brendan Quinn, a distinguished hurler who plays for Gort na Móna then took the bow. Aaron Smith and Barry Johnston both play for Cliftonville’s first team and Billy Joe Burns is on the books of Linfield FC and St Paul’s GAC at the same time.  He is a busy young man.  And finally Damien Kelly and Jane Adams.
I told Damien Kelly that I was not afraid of him even if he is a champion professional boxer of international renown. And then Jane, herself.  All Star camogie player with five County Antrim titles, three Ulster champion titles and four All Ireland medals in her pocket. I told those present that I was a wee bit biased in favour of Jane but it wasn’t because of her surname.  You see, I am not afraid of the Adams’s either - Dougie or Gerry.
All in all, the Funday allowed the Ballymurphy and Upper Springfield communities to showcase their sporting achievements and I certainly intend to bring that message with me to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Department.
Completely changing the subject, Bertie, is there any truth in the rumour that Beverly Flynn TD will be returning to the Fianna Fáil tent, or is that ‘tint’?  I am only asking.  No particular reason, just curiosity, I suppose. If Beverley had not secured election to the Dáil this time around, would you have nominated her to the Seanad along with John Ellis and Ivor Callely.  Again, only asking.
Now that the dust has settled on the Seanad Elections and appointments, have we heard the last of promises to reform that particular institution? I promise you, Bertie, I will not mention the Seanad again for at least two weeks.

Is mise le meas
Barry McElduff

NB: Bertie Ahern can be contacted on (00 353) 1 619 4020 or e-mail [email protected]  Address: Office of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Dublin 2.

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