Cowen could take leaf from Dev’s book
Deaglán de Bréadún
I met Brian Cowen in the corridor at Leinster House last night (corridors of power and all that). We exchanged pleasantries but afterwards I realised I had completely forgotten to ask him, When Are You Giving Your State of the Nation Address? I bet my excellent colleague Harry McGee would have remembered, since he has been on this story for some time now.
It occurred to me this morning that Cowen might actually want to speak to the people, but he just can’t find the words. Anyone out there got any suggestions? I personally think he should forget about the Haughey “spake” from the early ’80s. CJ talked the talk on that occasion but he didn’t walk the walk (he did later, much later).
No, the template should be Dev’s Reply to Churchill. This has to be Brian’s Answer to the Recession. As on the current occasion, Dev was under media pressure to respond to Winnie’s attack on our neutral stance in the second World War.
My late father was in downtown Dublin the night Dev made that radio address and, years afterwards, he recalled in wonderment how the city streets were totally deserted, all trams stopped, etc., as the whole population downed tools to listen the “wireless” as it was then called.
One of the facets of the speech that always strikes me is Dev’s extreme courteousness (courtesy?) which actually makes his address much more effective. He does not lose his temper which would be a sign of weakness on that occasion.
Dev’s wartime record was stained by the use of capital punishment but otherwise he did most things right. He is excessively criticised for signing a book of condolences for a certain appalling Nazi dictator. I sure as hell wish he hadn’t done it, but in fairness to the Long Fellow he would not have had anything like the awareness that we do now of the evil one’s misdeeds and, in his own eyes, was simply behaving correctly on behalf of one state to another. Wasn’t it Bertie Ahern who said, “Hindsight is 50-50 vision?”
NOTE: If you are accessing this post in Leinster House you will not be able to view the YouYube recording of Dev’s reply to Churchill which I put at the start. Apparently YouTube is a Banned Site in the Oireachtas and throughout Government. I understand unofficially that it was considered people were spending too much time dawdling over it! It is ironic that I was trying to access a speech by a founding-father of our democracy. Herewith the notice I got on my screen. I have applied for access for business purposes. If you are outside Leinster House you should be able to access Dev’s words to Winston.
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