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Trinity Seanad Election 2007: With Friends Like These?

Posted on: June 29th, 2007 1 Comment

“Time to get yourself re-elected to the Seanad,” says she. “Target a section of the TCD constituency and go for it.” “Where shall I start?” I ask. “All the lefties and bearded trade unionists cross the street to avoid me. I seem to have offended them.”

“You should have thought of that before you went seeking their votes,” says she. “Well, at least the business crew will back you.” “They will be a doddle,” I reply unconvincingly, pointing out that many Trinity College graduates have risen to the top of Irish business.

“Like Brian Goggin, the Bank of Ireland chief and TCD man who last week was found to have trousered €4m in 2006?” says she. “He will put you bottom of the list after all you wrote about his board. Try someone else.”

So I decide to identify which Trinity graduates are prominent in business. Where will I trawl for votes? “Start at the top,” says she, cockily surveying the register of 50,000 constituents from TCD.

And I do. Right at the top, at the biggest company in Ireland, Allied Irish Bank. “Whoopee,” says she. “The AIB chief executive, Eugene Sheehy, is a TCD graduate and a constituent. The bank might even give you a donation. He could deliver all the votes of your constituents working for AIB. How do you hit it off with Eugene?” asks she. “I don’t. He refuses to take my calls,” says I. “The bankers detest me almost as much as the bearded brethren. Ever since I called them Allied Irish Bandits.”

“Not a great start”, says she. “So big bankers Brian and Eugene are out. Well, try CRH, our biggest industrial company. There must be a pile of TCD graduates on the board.” “There are,” I concede. “It is peppered with them. Too many, I fear.” Easy pickings, these CRH graduates of Trinity. Sure, they will all vote for me.

“Look here, chairman Pat Molloy has a business degree. And chief executive Liam O’Mahony has an MBA. Ring them. Better still, why not ask one of them to sponsor you?” says she happily. “Um, they are not big fans,” I tell her. “They were none too pleased about stuff I penned in the past. They bellyached and went a bit bananas. They don’t like being reminded that CRH has been in competition trouble and allowed its land in Blessington to be polluted.”

“How do you expect them to feel? They run a successful global business and you bitch at them from the sidelines,” says she. “And besides,” I remind her, “Pat Molloy was on the Eircom board that propped up Alfie Kane. We had a few run-ins with that shower.”

“Ring them up and say sorry,” says she. “Too late,” says I. “Not very convincing to say sorry to the voters just weeks before an election.”

“Well, how about Smurfits?” says she, somewhat exasperatedly. “I myself remember the current boss, Gary McGann, as a really charming guy. He was remarkably generous to me when he was at Gilbeys. I really liked him. And Gary has a Masters degree in management from TCD.” Gary is a bit of a problem,” says I, “He dispatched a solicitor’s letter when I wrote about his antics at Aer Rianta and IBEC.”

“For God’s sake” says she. “Is there any business person out there who likes you?”

Sudden inspiration lights up her face. “I know who will help,” she says. “He’s a zillionaire and one of your oldest friends. I love him dearly and his wife Anne is a cracker. You and he even used to get into the odd scrape together in the days of your youth at TCD. And he’d be good for a few grand donation. Ring Tom.”

“Tom?” “Yes, Tom, Tom Roche. Funnily enough we haven’t seen them for ages. I wonder why? And by the way, what is he up to these days? Just living on his billions?”

“Not quite. My old pal is now my ex-pal. Tom is the boss at a little company called National Toll Roads. He blocks up the M50. He owns the bloody toll bridge.”

An 11th preference.

“Is there no bigwig in the private sector whom you have not insulted — in print or in the Seanad?” she asks. “How about the semi-states then? Who is Gary McGann’s chief bottle-washer at DAA? Look, its Declan Collier. Bravo – and you see he has a degree from TCD. Declan will support you.” A non-runner. Declan has received stick galore in this blog. “Declan is the boss of what we called the ‘Third World slum’, namely Dublin Airport.”

“How about CIE? Any votes there? Look here at the register. Bingo, a sitter for you, a board member of CIE, a professor in TCD and a woman to boot. I could approach her. Solidarity with the sisterhood and all that bull. She has even been on the board of Tara Mines, a really entrepreneurial company.” “Great,” says I, “Go for it! By the way, what is her name?”

“She has a pretty name. Yvonne. Yvonne Scannell,” she says. “Not quite the answer to our prayers,” I reply. “Yvonne Scannell is on another, more familiar, board. She was one of the cabal at the EBS that shafted poor Ethna Tinney a few weeks ago. She was chairman of the nomination committee. We gave her a hard time.”

“Forget the fat cats in big business,” says she, “try the Bertie route. Surely he might give you one of his 11 Seanad nominations?”

“Um, Bertie . . .”