No Joking Matter at the Taoiseach’s Dinner
Deaglán de Bréadún
The Taoiseach’s annual Cairde Fáil dinner of party supporters last night at Citywest was a low-key affair. Any journalists hoping for a row were disappointed. Brian Cowen’s speech was in the “Workmanlike” category: we shall soldier on, pay talks or no pay talks.
The audience applauded at one stage during the speech and there was the statutory standing ovation at the end. No heckling. No dissenting backbenchers.
Indeed, backbenchers were fairly thin on the ground: I couldn’t spot Mattie McGrath anywhere and there was of course no sign of Jim McDaid who has lost the whip anyway. There was a large crowd and the Taoiseach did a certain amount of mingling and gladhanding.
But he cannot compare in this department with the Maestro himself, Bertie Ahern. I could swear that, two years ago, the “Bert” covered the entire room of 2,500 people, shaking hands with each and every individual. “How’s the hard-working man,” was his standard greeting. In this respect anyway, we shall not see his likes again.
On that occasion, there was an hilarious comedy routine by Oliver Callan where he did a marvellous take-off of the party leader. None of that this time: the present situation is clearly no joking matter.