Friday, March 01, 2013
Given that her fellow junior health minister quit because she could not stand to be in the same room as James Reilly, it was perhaps unfortunate that Kathleen Lynch ended up being stuck in a lift with him.
The pair looked suitably uncomfortable in pictures of their temporary incarceration together, alongside flunkies and journalists.
Dr Reilly was dubbed a "stroke specialist" after former junior health minister Róisín Shortall accused him of practising "stroke politics" in his allocation of health resources, but it was a stroke of bad luck that laid him low yesterday at the opening of a new mental health facility.
Luckily, a photographer was in the elevator to capture the scene, and in one picture Ms Lynch can be seen clasping her hands — as if praying for early release.
So keen were they to escape the confined space, Ms Lynch’s private secretary Aidan McLaughlin and Dr Reilly tried to prise the doors open from the inside — but even the health minister’s burly frame could not make it budge.
Critics of the crassly handled decision to abandon mobility schemes for disabled people without warning will have noted the irony of the two ministers responsible for that blunder being left stranded. But Dr Reilly and Ms Lynch only suffered the inconvenience for 20 minutes — disabled people have no idea how long they will have to wait for a promised, though undefined, replacement scheme to rescue them.
You could say that Dr Reilly was in debt to his rescuers, but that would probably just ignite his temper, because, of course, the health minister is in debt to other people as well as part of a consortium that owes €1.9m.
Indeed, the embarrassing matter saw him become the first serving Cabinet minister to be named and shamed in the debtor’s version of the who’s who, Stubbs Gazette.
After they finally exited the elevator, the two ministers looked slightly disorientated and more than a little relieved, with Ms Lynch insisting she had made the best of the experience, stating: "I was practising mindfulness, yes, it’s very good for you — living in the now."
When Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte was recently asked by the Irish Examiner which of his ministerial colleagues he would like to be stuck in a lift with, he replied: "If that was a possibility I think I would rather take the stairs."
It is probably a feeling Ms Lynch now knows all too well.
Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins