The Taoiseach's sleep was rudely interrupted earlier this morning when fire alarm bells rang out at about 4.30 a.m. local time in the very luxurious Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where Bertie Ahern and his party - including Senate leader Donie Cassidy - are staying at present, ahead of the Taoiseach's address to both Houses of Congress later today.
After the alarm sounded, members of the U. S. Secret Service escorted the Taoiseach from his suite on the tenth floor down to the street, where he joined about 600 other guests who gathered slightly puzzled and half asleep on Connecticut Avenue in front of the Mayflower, one of the most exclusive and luxurious hotels in Washington (with the cheapest room costing $ 400 a night).
Early speculations that the alarm was a hoax to interrupt Bertie Ahern's sleep were proven wrong, and Pat Kenny's suggestion that someone in the Irish party might have lit a cigarette in his room against the rules also turned out to be incorrect. Apparently an electric generator on the eleventh floor - one above the Taoiseach's suite - caught fire and caused minor damage.
Shortly after 5 a.m. local time the "all clear" was given and everyone was allowed back into their rooms. This gives Bertie about five more hours to rest and get ready, as he is due on Capitol Hill shortly after 10 a.m. local time.
The Emerald Islander