And so the waiting begins.  Bertie has bid farewell to Mr. Justice Alan Mahon and his esteemed colleagues down at Dublin Castle, and when Owen O’Callaghan has given his tuppence worth the three judges can get on with writing their final report.

I must say that I will miss the tribunal.  In entertainment terms it has been the best show in town for quite some years now and had come to feel almost like an old, reliable friend.  The sort of old friend who could always be relied upon to cheer me up and give me a giggle on a dreary, wet Monday in Dublin traffic.  After a 12 year run the end of it will seem a bit like the last episode of The Riordans.

The tribunal even outlived the Vincent Browne Show.  The re-enactments pioneered on the show were always fantastic entertainment.  Way back in the dim and distant past, before pod-casting had been heard of, I used to set my cassette recorder on a timer to record the show before I went to bed at night.  Driving out the N4 at 3 or 4am the next morning I was often convulsed with laughter while listening to Tom Gilmartin of Liam Lawlor giving evidence.  Gilmartin’s recounting of the occasion when Lawlor gate crashed a meeting in London nearly put me in a ditch west of Enfield one dark morning.

You see, there were one or two consummate entertainers at the tribunal a few years before Bertie came on the scene.  Imagine how disappointing it would have been if Bertie had completely flopped in the comedy stakes.

Good old reliable Bertie, though, he really didn’t let us down.  Bertie’s run had many highlights.  Everything from how as minister for finance he didn’t engage with the banking system to Michael Wall not eating the dinner and many more fabulous anecdotes in between proved his status as a raconteur without peer.  However, the day he told us that he won the money on a horse has got to be the pinnacle of a performance with more peaks than the Himalayas.

I look forward eagerly to the publication of the final report.  It is sure to be a bestseller and should easily outstrip Justice Floods interim report from a couple of years ago.  Perhaps it will enliven the blogosphere, which quite frankly has been a little quiet of late.

Over in Dublin 4 work on the new Lansdowne Road stadium continues apace.  When the newly built venue opens to the public in 2010 rugby and soccer fans can expect a much enhanced day out for their sports viewing.  What they won’t be expecting, however, is the crowds of spectators urging them on as they go to spend a penny in the stadium’s many toilet facilities.

“The other big thing is the toilet facilities, something that the old stadium was lacking in, to put it mildly. It’ll be a much better spectator experience.”  So said Martin Murphy, Lansdowne Road Stadium Director