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TD GROPED DAIL BEAUTY; Shamed ex-minister's apology to usher after bar incident.

A FORMER Minister was forced to say sorry to a pretty Dail usher after a late night groping incident outside a Leinster House bar.

Former Minister for Sport Liam Aylward made a grovelling apology to pretty brunette Frances Lane after tackling her on a leather couch following a boozy session in the Dail bar.

Shaken Frances, a daughter of the Dail's most senior usher Frank Lane, fought off the drunk Fianna Fail TD, a married father of four and was comforted by shocked colleagues.

The next day she made a complaint to her boss, the Dail's captain of the guard, Commandant Noel McCann, and to her union, IMPACT.

A hearing was called last weekend, chaired by the Leas Ceann Conhairle Rory O'Hanlon representing the leader of the house. Also present were government chief whip Seamus Brennan, the Superintendent of the Dail Commandant Eamonn O'Donoghue, Commandant McCann, Frances Lane and Liam Aylward.

At the hearing, the embarrassed Kilkenny TD claimed he could remember nothing of the incident.

Last night the former Minister said: "I have apologised for the incident personally and the apology was graciously accepted. I have nothing further to add."

A spokesman for Fianna Fail said: "Any complaint against a party member is taken seriously and is investigated fully through nor-

mal Dail procedures. This was sorted out immediately."

On the day of the incident Aylward, a father of four, had been on a trip to London and when he returned was drinking in the Dail bar. The incident took place near midnight outside the bar.

Dr Rory O'Hanlon, who attended the Dail hearing, is also the chairman of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party and issued a stern warning to Aylward that such behaviour from him "would never again be tolerated".

Aylward pleaded to the distraught usher for mercy and again apologised .

Frances Lane accepted his excuse.

Last week's incident follows a recent attempted assault by a Fianna Fail senator on a middle-aged usher who immediately kicked him in the shin.

And two years ago RTE journalist Una Claffey was assaulted by current Fianna Fail minister of state Ned O'Keeffe.

In a drunken state he attempted to French kiss the RTE political correspondent. He subsequently apologised.

Dail authorities now realise that the four female ushers are vulnerable to incident with TDs.

Rota bosses are now considering putting them on earlier duties.
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Author:Leslie, Neil; Hanna, Conor
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 19, 1998
Words:392
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