Smith evokes Dev’s legendary comeback remark

WORDS used by Éamon de Valera at a public meeting in Ennis, Co Clare, 87 years ago, had an echo in Clonakilty, Co Cork, yesterday.

Mr de Valera was addressing his supporters from a general election platform in O’Connell Square, Ennis, on August 15, 1923, when it was surrounded by Free State troops. He was arrested and held in prison for 11 months.

Sometime after his release, he returned to Ennis and resumed his speech at another public meeting with the preface: “Well, as I was saying to you when we were interrupted.”

The remark, which has gone down in political folk history, again surfaced at the launch of a three-year Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) strategy for the Irish seafood sector in Clonakilty yesterday.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith was delivering his seven-page address when the fire alarm went off at decentralised offices of his department and BIM.

The 130 people present were evacuated in an orderly fashion, and were supervised by staff and gardaí under Superintendent Pat Maher.

But it was soon established the alarm was triggered by nothing more lethal than steam from a dish washer and after a few minutes the guests resumed their seats.

Mr Smith also returned to the lectern, and in the spirit of Éamon de Valera, took up where he had left off with the celebrated words: “As I was saying...”


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