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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 1, 2009 @ 1:08 pm


    Harry McGee

    No wonder Brian Cowen was reluctant to don the waders in Athlone last week. He knows that once he walks into the waters there is no retreat. For him the floods will never recede.

    When he was elected Taoiseach you would swear his gifts were such that he could walk on water. Now, we have all learned that he can barely stay afloat.

    But is he a survivor who can steer the ship of state to a safe harbour? Or are we looming at a man in a lifeboat with only one oar?

    My own belief is that this Government will last almost its full term. But that Cowen will be a one-term Taoiseach.

    He’s not a survivor like Haughey or Ahern. Sure he has been an unlucky general. But he has not helped his own cause.

    Cowen refuses to play the PR game. The spin is that he’s unspun. He refuses to do artifice. But it’s been a disaster. He is wooden when he meets ordinary people. He gies through the motions during doorstep interviews which he’s terrible at. His language is just a string of meaningless jargon. So on the basis of no spin he won’t do the stuff he’s good at which is speeches off the cuff and longer sit-downs with the media where he can relax a bit and use some humour.

    Cowen has to realise that this is not the era of Lemass and Lynch. He gave an abrupt interview with the media yesterday that teetered on rudeness. When a leaky boat is sinking there’s not much point in throwing the bailing can overboard, is there?

    • NaRocRoc says:

      And through all of this Fine Gael, and Enda Kenny in particular have been very quiet. You’d wonder if they are just leaving Cowen to stew in his own misfortune or if they want to get in at all? A lot of hassle to take on. Let FF/Greens wallow might be the party line.

    • anto says:

      I feel like there’s a metaphor in there, somewhere…

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Harry, how has he been elected with such a substantial vote on Laois Offaly down the years if his skills on the door steps are as poor as we’ve seen them. Is it all down to first mover advantage that came from getting his father’s seat in the by-election? and then doing the slog work of sorting out local issues and doing the dance of the Dáil envelopes with the letter acknowledging receipt of your communication and then the one about how you contacted X and hope to hear more soon followed up with endless progress reports. All to keep people on side when it comes to voting time.

      I must admit to think that Gormley was on a hiding to nothing on the Frontline with him being blamed for stuff that happened long before he was minister not to mind in government. Why he didn’t simply throw Dick Roche and others who’ve been in that department to the wolves is beyond me.

    • kynos says:

      Should he be called Cowen or Canute? Or Knut even.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Cowen is a reflection of the people who vote for him and his type. The truth that dare not speak its name is that a large portion of the Irish population are unfit for purpose or a mirror reflection of the very people they claim have ruined the country.

      Before we go around blaming TDs and priests and estate agents we need to have a long hard look at ourselves. We elect the TDs and when we find they are crooks we elect them again to top the poll – all over Ireland there are examples of this.

      Then when we find out the church has been torturing children and young men and women what do we do – we go back to Mass and no one has the guts to name a priest or nun from the floor of the church or demand criminal charges.

      Ditto when we find out about the corrupt professions.

      It can’t be as simple as blaming 800 years of oppression because that ended 100 years ago so the fault must be entirely with us and among us.

      The glimmer of hope is that some students took a stand to stop Ahern getting a posting at NUI – whether it makes any difference remains to be seen – and some people have stood up and said sorry isn’t enough the bishops have to go.

      If enough people take courage from that and add their voice then it becomes loud enough that it can’t be ignored.

      There is a very effective ad on UK TV about a little old tea lady going to her boss in some flash office and asking for a fair wage for a fair day’s work and being given the brush off and left standing there until the tea lady coughs but the noise is a cumulative cough of the many millions of Unite union members who stand behind the little old lady and the sound of that cough rattles the smooth tea cup on the boss’s table and gets their attention.

      So it’s about time the ‘honest and decent’ people of Ireland we keep hearing so much about but whom we rarely see started to cough – but not in the way that they do when the church has them by the you know whats … but in the sense of, we’re not going to be ignored anymore and from now on this is how it’s going to be …

      Holding Ahern and Cowen and Coughlan and the other me féiner cronies in FF to account wouldn’t be a bad start because until all the political rot is taken away it is a complete waste of time to reform or rebuild anything.

      If the foundations of the State are rotten to the core – as is the case in Ireland – using those foundations again will just mean the same rot will destroy everything from the inside out yet again.

      While Enda Kenny can’t fail to be a vast improvement on Cowen and Ahern, anyone who thinks he has the will or ability to usher in a golden period of reform and transparency is going to be sorely mistaken as he and his party – and the Labour Party – and their mentality are as much part of the problem as anyone in FF albeit from a different angle.

      The type of reform Ireland needs can only come from the bottom up and there’s little evidence so far that the Irish have the intellectual ability to understand that or do something about it.

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