There's something about Fianna Fáil's prim Mary

Micheál Martin's 'phantom heave' may have been the most civilised political challenge in Irish history, but there was some fallout from it on Wednesday morning. After the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting the previous night, the party's 'mammy', Mary O'Rourke, appeared on the Today With Pat Kenny radio show. The best line was reserved for tourism and sports minister Mary Hanafin, who was described as "a prim aunt" straight from a Terence Rattigan play, according to Mammy. Ouch!

Leyden: 'I'm great so I am'

While Fianna Fáil may be tearing itself apart in some quarters, veteran senator Terry Leyden was an exception to that rule. Speaking in the Upper House on Tuesday, Leyden thanked junior minister Martin Mansergh for opening the new €11.5m offices of the Property Registration Authority in Roscommon town recently.

He continued: "I visited them this morning and congratulated all concerned. I congratulate, in particular, the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran, as well as myself for bringing the project to Roscommon town…" At that point, Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames interrupted. "Is the senator congratulating himself?" Leyden replied: "I am" and Healy Eames retorted sarcastically:"That is modesty!" Self-praise is no praise.

Double portfolios mean double trouble for some

AFTER the Green Party forced Taoiseach Brian Cowen into reassigning the six retiring ministers' portfolios on Thursday, the remaining ministers now double-jobbing face major problems in the final weeks of this government's life.

At the start of each Dáil term, a rota is circulated depicting a timetable of when each of the 15 cabinet ministers is scheduled to answer parliamentary questions from the opposition parties. In normal circumstances, a given minister would have to come into the Dáil once in every 15 sitting days.

But the double-jobbing ministers will now struggle to cope with their workload. Spare a thought for Brendan Smith – the minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and Justice and Law Reform. He is now timetabled to wear his agriculture hat on Wednesday 2 February and is due in the Dáil the following day to face questions about his new justice portfolio.

Disorder in the house!

As events unfolded last Thursday, Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk did not exactly instill confidence in the electorate's view of the political situation. Repeatedly asked by opposition figures to suspend the Dáil until the Taoiseach Brian Cowen arrived, Kirk came out with a statement that was more akin to a line from Father Ted than the Oireachtas. He declared: "Until we have continuous disorder I cannot suspend the house."