Oireachtas coverage at its best

Users of the Oireachtas.ie website got a surprise over Christmas when they went online to find the website 'hosting' the Sky News channel and advertisements for Heineken beer.

The website usually provides live web stream coverage of the debates in the Dáil, Seanad and Oireachtas committee rooms, but it hosted Sky News for a while, by mistake.

Political anoraks and bloggers were quick to pick up on the gaffe. Damien Mulley, blogger and communications guru, immediately uploaded pictures of the Sky News coverage and the Heineken advert on his website.

The external pictures were uploaded in error by broadcast staff in the Oireachtas and they were quickly removed.

"On non-sitting days of the Houses of the Oireachtas, routine checks are carried out on the broadcast service in order to maintain and test the system," a spokesman told the Sunday Tribune. "On this occasion, an external station was used while conducting a test. As soon as the situation became known it was immediately rectified."

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern was renowned for his verbal slips, such as the time he told the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party he wouldn't tolerate anyone forming "kebabs" in his party, when he really meant 'cabals'.

Many of his contemporaries and predecessors have been found guilty of similar slips of the tongue but the advent of technology has ushered in a new era for the political gaffe.

Two weeks ago, the "F**k you, Deputy Stagg" outburst from Green TD Paul Gogarty became a YouTube phenomenon, generating almost 170,000 hits within a week after it happened.