“This is not a crime in Ireland, or even a misdemeanour.”

In the Irish Times, Miriam Lord’s sketch of events in the Dáil yesterday, which led to the promise of Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue’s resignation, is, as always, worth a read. But it’s Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary which gets closest to the actualité.

I HAVEN’T seen the charge formally levelled against him yet anywhere. But it seems to me that what John O’Donoghue stands accused of, fundamentally, is that on a specified number of dates between about 2005 and 2009, he did, knowingly or unknowingly, individually or in concert with others, lose the run of himself.

As Frank McNally goes on to say

Never mind the KBE or the Papal Knighthood. The NLROH [Never Lost the Run Of Himself] is the most prestigious set of letters you can have after your name in this country. And yet I cannot for the life of me discover where the phrase originated. It sounds quintessentially Irish.

But it could well be one of those terms – like “the crack” – that was born and reared in England before it crossed the sea and, finding its talents more appreciated here, went native.

The “run” is a vital component of England’s national game, after all. And just about the worst thing you can do in cricket is to be “run out”, which has a similar meaning. Then you can’t blame a good ball or a bad pitch. To be run out at the very least implies a sense of disorientation that you brought upon yourself. At worst, it means you threw your wicket away in a crass error of judgment.

I doubt if John O’Donoghue has ever played cricket, so he hardly knows much about running between wickets (and when he was Minister for Sport, somebody would surely have ordered him a car). But he now has the look of a batsman caught out of his ground, suddenly, when changing conditions in the outfield caused the ball to come back earlier than expected.

And not just John O’Donoghue.