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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 14, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

    ‘Tis When I’m at a Think-In, I’m always Drink-In . . . ‘

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Should I put my press pass from the Fianna Fail think-in up for sale on Ebay? Depends on the long-term fall-out. The interview with Brian Cowen on Morning Ireland was a disaster. He sounded terrible, not necessarily hungover but bad enough for an opponent to put that construction on it. And so Fine Gael did, in the very unlikely person of Simon Coveney.

    Ursula Halligan of TV3 raised the question forthrightly with the Taoiseach – in effect asking if he was drunk or hung over? For a short time it looked as if Cowen was a goner politically. Then Micheál Martin and Noel Dempsey came in to steady the ship. Since then the story has been losing legs but it could still be kept alive if the Joe Duffy ‘Liveline’ show is sufficiently raucous.

    • Susan Murphy says:

      I listened to the interview this morning in utter disbelief as I sat in my car on the way to work. A dull Tuesday morning, my head still spinning from the content of RTE’s “Freefall” documentary the previous night, and the leader of my country takes to the airwaves very obviously the worse for wear after the night before. To borrow a phrase, he was a “thundering disgrace”. As a humble taxpayer and voter (not aligned with any political party) I wondered to myself what it would take for the people of this country to shout STOP to this government. Rather than asking how much more insult and injury do we have to take, why are people not asking ‘why should we take such insult and injury’?

    • robespierre says:

      The crime is not to be drinking at a staff “away day”. That is the whole point of them (to some extent anyway).

      No professional however drinks so much that they are unable to turn-up on time and work the next day. As a middle-aged, highly paid public servant earning over a thousand a day net of pension, in the highest office in the land we are entitled to expect more from him in general decorum.

      While there have been what we euphemistically call “drinkers” throughout the history of our governments, I am unaware of too many stories or photos of any other leader this disheveled.

      This is not by any stretch the first time he has had to answer questions about his drinking habits.

    • Was Brian Cowen overhead to say “Micheál Martin and Noel Dempsey are my bestess friends in the whole wide world! I love you all”?

      That he had a drink at a FF think-in is not so much a problem as the fact that his FF handlers thought an early morning interview would be a good thing. And the interview itself was only a rehash of the usual ráiméis that passes for insight where Brian Cowen is concerned. He could have been spared it as could we all.

    • mick murphy says:

      I heard the interview this morning and thought Cowen was a disgrace. Inarticulate, arrogant (as usual) dismissive of the concerns of the public. And obviously the worse for wear – as in up til 3 am in the bar – whether it was a hangover or not is immaterial. His Press Sec Eoghan O Neachtain – he of the Conor Casby portrait debacle – should resign. He is perhaps more culpable than the hapless Cowen for letting him on Morning Ireland in that state. They should both go.

    • Jonathan says:

      Well it’s not exactly a secret that BC is a drinker. Or at least that’s what he’s called in Ireland. In lots of countries anybody who drinks like that would be called something else.

    • paul m says:

      happy to see twitter yet again being put to good use to whip the government with. are FF the last ones to figure out how wonderfully dangerous a tool it is?

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      Sad ……….but he must be close to a breakdown. His friends would do him and the rest of us a great favor by asking him to step down and take it easy. He screwed up royally going as as far back as his MOF portfolio and he is intelligent enough to know that. He should stop digging the hole and move on. I think he still has a lot to offer Ireland in other fora, and after he does a bit of a detox and loses about 4 stone.



    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      The damage was done in the first nano second when he did that thing people do when they are still half asleep and feeling like death with a mouth drier than the desert and he tried to set his tongue with his saliva before he spoke.

      Cowen sounds like he was sitting on the bed in his underpants. When he should have been wide awake, showered, shaved, face washed, teeth brushed, suit on and professional.

      Then this guff about him not being a morning person, since when was just before 9am, the early morning. He should have been up since at least 7am – can you imagine Obama or Cameron appearing in such a state and they don’t even get paid as much as Cowen.

      Cowen is also grossly overweight and unhealthy as a person and needs to radically slim down, that alone would go a good way to deal with the nasal issue too.

      This ‘think-in’ is an indication of how much is wrong in little old Ireland, you have the crony politicans and the fawning media.

      Did you have great craic Deaglán, drinking and singing with the very people you are meant to report on and hold to account? But no conflict of interest of course. Who paid the bill for your meal and drinks and travel costs? Was it the taxpayer, Fianna Fáil or the Irish Times or all three? Ditto for all the other hacks there.

      Now there is Tricky Micky Martin having a meltdown on RTE (at 6.15pm).

      Isn’t it amazing how differently the Icelandic media has handled their crisis and how their political class and media class rose to the challenge and then you look at Ireland.

      The interview fiasco sums up the wreckage of the government, all these fat bloated, over middle aged grey men and women, who think that in the worest crisis the country has ever faced, that it’s ok for them to spend a night drinking a bar dry – that they intellectually couldn’t understand why that was wrong – these people have had all Summer off, despite claims to the contrary from some, so they’ve had plenty of time to chill out – juding by the range of tans on show certainly.

      Even Marie Antoinnette was clued in enough to ask why if there was no bread available, the people were not being given the brioche that was available instead to prevent hunger. Never has a woman been so badly misquoted.

      Cowen and his circle have spent so long cocooned away from reality they are now so out of touch there’s no rescue – worse even than the UK Tories in 1997 and the defeat facing FF will be even bigger.

    • barbera says:

      Even after a hectic night and only a couple of hours sleep, Brian Cowen is still the sharpest knife in the drawer. I didn’t think Simon Coveney would stoop so low as to try to make political hay out of what amounted to a very tired Taoiseach doing all in his power to carry out his commitments and stick to a pre-arranged schedule, which involved a radio interview. The man is human. Give him a break. It will take a hell of a lot more that the twittering of Simon Coveney to unsettle Brian Cowen.

    • dealga says:

      One has to question Simon Coveney’s intelligence. The morning after the Frontline programme that gave yet more ammunition to those who would blame Bertie and Biffo for the collapse and what becomes the story?…

      Just like the FG leadership heave, in which Coveney played a leading role, that came the same weekend of yet another revelation that seemed destined to force an election. Bet no one even remembers what that story was now…

    • Desmond FitzGerald:For your information, I don’t drink and wasn’t in the bar with Mr Cowen and his friends (in the process I missed the story!). And The Irish Times pays my Galway travel and accommodation costs.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      No need to be so snippy and I hope you provide receipts. You already know I don’t buy this nonsense that the political and personal are separate or that you can be all matey with an Irish politican and then at the same time be impartial in reporting what they do. It simply doesn’t work in the context of how corrupt Irish governance is.

      I find it very unedifying to hear of the reporters going into the bar to join some sing song and to ‘have some craic’ with people who have beggared the country due to their cronyism. How are the reporters who were holding up a bar with all manner of FF low life meant to claim to be impartial and professionl when holding this miserable government to account.

      Can you imagine Obama or Cameron or Blair being in such a state. Or any other Taoiseach. The mind boggles.

      Iceland is a small country, vastly smaller than Ireland, where every one knows each other even more incestuously than Ireland and yet its media managed to carry out its role properly with no fear of favour and ensure the public’s anger at what happened in Iceland is directed toward those who are responsible.

      But of course hell will freeze over before the cosy links beween the media and the Irish political class leads to the same outcome for Ireland as in Iceland. You don’t see Nick Robinson of the BBC or any other journalist here holding up a bar.

      Of course when you read the actual transcript it’s even worse. 3 months to the budget and he hasn’t the faintest idea where these cuts are coming from nor does he have a SWOT review carried out and 3 years into this mess he still hasn’t carried out a line by line spending review of every cent spent – the new UK government is in 3 months and it’s publishing its review next month.

      You’re not doing your jobs properly Deaglán, the media is part of the problem too in Ireland.

    • Desmond FitzGerald: I wasn’t being snippy, merely responding to your query. And I have receipts too.
      Your take on the relationship between the media and Cowen is frankly bizarre. The media are chronicling the self-destructive mistakes of the Taoiseach in massive detail.

    • robespierre says:

      Desmond I remember you posting on Politics.ie and you were similarly abusive there. This forum is meant to be a more erudite forum. My recollection from Deaglán is that this is an additional task on top of their dayjob.

      I personally enjoy the informality of many of the posts and find some of the debates that arise diverting. Your personalisation of issues and accusations of various parties as being corrupt or biased ill behoves one bemoaning a lack of real justice.

      I wouldn’t take your abuse if I ran this column and would simply spike you. Cop on and grow-up.

    • jo bangles says:

      @14 the comments are not merely abusive they are defamatory…they question not only the personal but also the professional integrity of the recipient…
      Despite frequent repetition of such slurs there has never been a request for an apology or for them to be withdrawn. To some extent there has been acquiescence on Deaglan’s part, in that he dismisses them, as far as Desmond is concerned as ‘letting off steam’…
      Perhaps this is because Deaglan has also been guilty of making gratuitously offensive and/or personal remarks to certain individuals…Aidan in particular comes in for quite appalling abuse despite his erudite and interesting if occasionally unconventional/unorthodox approach to topics on the blog…
      Perhaps the boundaries of the playing field need to be applied equally…to strain the metaphor to breaking point…
      Anyway I do not wish to open old wounds save to say your point is well made and perhaps from now on everyone can be treated with equal dignity and respect…erudite or not!

    • Readers of this blog should be aware that “jo bangles” is the latest pseudonym for “Ruby Tuesday” who has been by a country mile the most offensive and gratuitously insulting commentator on this site, further evidence of which will no doubt be forthcoming in response to this.

    • jo bangles says:

      I would never impugn Deaglans professional integrity by suggesting would be where ‘the craic was’…! ;-)
      Robespierre I don’t know how long you have lived in Ireland but most people can distinguish between ‘slagging’ and ‘slanging’…however on this and other occasions the remarks you refer to go beyond either…
      I take issue with your comment Deaglan…I would expect nothing else from you… any comments I have made have been in response to considerable provocation …
      Save that this response defines you and serves to prove my subsidiary point, I repeat I have no interest/intention in reopening old scores/wounds and am not going to be drawn into unseemly exchanges with you or anyone else…You might apologise to Aidan tho’…
      Whilst I have never called into question your professional integrity…I hope your reporting is more accurate than your latest misrepresentation …
      Well done in deflecting the focus away from the actual culprit in this issue!

    • jo bangles says:

      Hold Up!…I think I might have hit on the solution to any future FF/Party-ing…Simples….
      Invite Deaglan…that way they’ll all be tucked up in bed well before the watershed… having said the Rosary….
      ‘The Sorrowful Mystery’ of course…!

    • robespierre says:

      Jo Bangles, slagging is typically something between people that actually know each other and by its nature is meant to be good natured joshing (that is not to say it can’t be crude – it depends on how well you know the person and whether they can take a joke).

      I personally draw the line at denigration of character. Focusing on the subject is an important rule of civilised debate. I find a surgeons knife more effective than a sledgehammer.

      Truth is elusive and none of us have a monopoly on it. Once again, I am all for discussion and debate. I think the blogger here is remarkably tolerant of the bile he publishes. I can only imagine what some of the material he spikes reads like.

    • jo bangles says:

      robespierre…I don’t disagree with you is inclined to ‘enter the arena’ as we say in my profession but Deaglan is as culpable as anyone else of hitting below the belt…However whilst trading insults may be unseemly it is quite different from making defamatory comments…
      Anyway I am more interested in the Pope’s visit to the UK at the moment and was very moved by the Celebration of the Mass and the way he was received by the people of Scotland yesterday…it was very Spiritual…and beautiful even for a Sinner like myself…!

    • Ruby/jo bangles:I do not hit “below the belt”. Now can we get back to the main topic please!

    • minX.ie says:

      Deaglán (bit off topic) here’s Nina Simone’s version of Mr Bojangles – beautiful:


      (ps – ruby can’t be all bad if she like Mr Bojangles…!!)

    • Thank you MinX.ie: that is a great song, very well performed. Nearly as good as my rendition of Raglan Road after a few Perriers :D

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @14 – oh no you did-hint uhh huh – it may surprise you but I never use p.ie

      @13 – you were being ‘snippy’ and then you had your below the belt dig about me having a chip on my shoulder, presumably because you think the holy grail for someone interested in politics and current affairs is to join the elite club of those who have been elected – yes, what a rich and accomlished group of people they have proven themselves to be – who wouldn’t want to aim to follow in their footsteps.

      A below the belt blow indeed when you happen to know perfectly well why I chose not to pursue a political career in a country like Ireland at the time doing so was a real possibility.

      I’m gald you have receipts for your expenses, I should think so.

      If this was a party event why is it paid for by the State and why were ministers using their state cars to attend – politicans over here use the train and their own cars – shock horror.

      Who paid for the security that was on hand to stop the little people getting near any of the cosy crony cartel.

      More importantly, is it right that journalists should be propping up the bar with the very people they are meant to be holding to account – if a minister buys a reporter a few drinks how can that reporter possibly be impartial?

      Iceland – it’s cost cartel cronies led it into a wall, its government wanted to bail out its friends, the media and the public screamed stop, we want to see what we are agreeing to pay and why we are meant to agree to pay it, then the media and public demanded the people have a vote and a say on the bail out, they voted no, the economy took a hit and within a few days was starting its recovery. Now Iceland is properly out of recession, as in actual trade not paper money from US multinationals that don’t make a single item in Ireland, it’s had a general election and replaced the government and now it’s bringing the decision makers, be they bankers, politicans or professionals to court to hold them responsible.

      Compare and contrast the media in Iceland, a small island where everyone knows each other, and that in Ireland where every comment on Cowne and Lenihan is prefaced with the words ‘intelligent’ without any evidence of this intelligence being made available.

      Maybe next time someone in the media or FF might like to place a hidden camera on their personage so the next time Cowen gives a ‘storming’ speech or has them rolling in the ailses, we can all share the joke.

      Oh silly me, it’s the Irish public who are the joke.

    • It is quite legitimate and even necessary to challenge and query govermnent policy. But there is generally a very nasty dimension to your critique, including besmirching the reputations of people who are dead and cannot answer for themselves. These throwaway aspersions on the integrity of individuals both living and dead detract from the value of your contributions but I get the feeling that doing down fellow human-beings is the real point of your lengthy disquisitions.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Well, it’s a shame the consequences of actions taken by the deceased don’t stop at their death.

      I believe the consequences of the type of people CJH, Brian Lenihan Snr, Cowen Snr, Coughlan Snr etc are still with us in the type of children they raised and the ethos they instilled in those children, who are now taking decisions that effect the lives of millions of Irish people and I don’t see any evidence that the apple has fallen far fro mthe parental tree.

      For instance, the two Brians did not grow up in a bubble unaffected, either consciously or unconsciously, by the example set by their father, anymore than you or I did, and given we know what type of people their father’s were, it stands to reasonthat rubbed off on their sons. Then when you examine the decisions taken by the current generation they are found wanting.

      Is it really conceivable that John Bruton or Garret FitzGerald, or Enda Kenny for that matter, would have taken the massive decision to bail out the banks at 3am or 4am with no civil servants prescent and no record of the meeting or that he would have rung around the cabinet to wake them up and ask them to agree such a decision while half asleep? Of course not.

      I want to understand why Cowen is such a bad Taoiseach when all we heard is how intelligent and in command he is and I don’t see any evidence of what those statements are based on. Understanding why he is so bad means also understanding his personality and that means understanding were he came from and the influences in his life, of whom one is his father. This applies to all of us – there’s nothing shocking about it nor does it cast aspersions on anyone – over here we are subject to endless comments about how Prince Charles’ upbringing affected his personality and how it will affect the type of King he becomes or the type of father he is and how that will in time impact on his successor.

      So why are Cowen and Lenihan immune from the same assessment.

      Their decisions are wrong because of the manner in which they are taken, as much as the fact they are in policy terms wrong. Therefore, to understand why they make decisions on such serious issues, in isolation with only a few inner circle advisers, needs to be addressed and understood to tackle it.

      Or should I pretend CJH was a perfect gentleman therefore the damage he did must be forgotten now he is dead, ditto Lenihan Snr etc.

      Can you imagine the difference in Ireland if George Colley had become FF leader and not CJH – not doubt policy mistakes would have been made, just like for example FitzGerald and Spring made many policy mistakes in the 80s but they retain an element of respect, in spite of their mistakes, because people know they are not infallible and if they made mistakes, they were genuine ones.

    • jo bangles says:

      Deaglan you should stay off that oul’ Perrier…you have to consider your carbonated footprint…:-)

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