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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 29, 2009 @ 10:49 am

    Cowen could take leaf from Dev’s book

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    YouTube Preview ImageI 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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    • Joanna Tuffy T.D. says:

      Perhaps the Taoiseach should get Fianna Fail Senator Denis O’Donovan to help him with preparing for such an Address. Senator O’Donovan referred to our island nationhood in his marathon speech on one of his amendments to the Harbours (Amendment) Bill this week on the Seanad. He was on his feet literally for hours with no break for the usual lunchtime sos, speaking off the cuff, reading extracts of reports and whole letters, retelling parables, in his trojan efforts to prevent the passing of this Bill that would mean the winding up of Bantry Harbour Board. Bantry is his home town.

    • Deaglán says:

      There are times when I feel sorry for polticians. Honestly!

      Looks like they have lifted the restriction on YouTube.

    • paulm says:

      i think if any address to the nation was to be made, An Taoiseach should look to a more contemporary source for inspiration


      as in the words of TIm Robbins in Hudsucker Proxy “You know… for kids!”

      It’s really disheartening to watch Ireland have to slug it out with the rest of Europe now, our supposed partners in the Eurozone clearly showing their hand, especially amongst those on the top tier of influence within the EU (Messrs Barossa and Sarkozy and Mme Merkel) as not those wishing to look out for European’s interests but their own selfish political ideals. We’re all as blind to the solution to the problem yet individually racing to find the cure will take longer than unified thinking. As we’ve seen, the euro is only as strong as its weakest link (the gaffe by a press interpretation of Cowen’s supposed IMF comments in Japan dropping the Euro a notch or two on the markets)

      I believe politics starts at home and those that voted you into power must have their concerns directly addressed. But if the EU are to lead us to believe that Lisbon is in Ireland’s interest – to relinquish some of our rights that may just save our bacon in future with respect to jobs (corporate tax rate being one) – then they’ve clearly shown us the Gollum side to their character – one ring to unite them all is still the one that each leader covets to rule us all.

      As Lisbon will eventually have to be addressed and may become even more important in streamlining European decision-making in such fast-paced changing times then the last thing we need is Ireland being badmouthed in the EU when we have yet again to hold a referendum on the issue. Again the tried tested and failed tactic of scaremongering is being used and will only play into the hands of Eurosceptics.

      Shame on the EU. It’s solidarity we need now not schoolyard bullying tactics.

      An angry Irish and European citizen.

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