This was one of those rare moments. A nationala crisis. Emergency legislation. The house sitting all night in order to railroad it through.
One of my favourite documentaries of all time is Errol Morris’s masterful portrait of Robert McNamara, JFK and Lyndon Johnson’s defence secretary during the Vietnam War. The film is essentially McNamara speaking – with extraordinary clarity intelligence and insight – about the 11 lessons he has learned in life.
The first thing I did when I got home after the holidays was turn on the radio.
The second thing I did was to change channels. It’s a simple law of physics. Half an hour of Liveline will ruin every minute of 10 days away from home.
And that is how I stumbled across Gordon Brown.
I noticed that both Joan Burton and Richard Bruton used golfing metaphors when lambasting Brian Cowen last night for his performance on the economy. Joan has a penchant for far-flung metaphors which she applies more thickly and copiously to her copy than fake tan at a debs’ ball (you get the drift). Anyways, poor old Cowen was more Darren Clarke than Padraig Harrington. Our golfing Taoiseach was below par everywhere else but on the golf course.
Mark Brennock, who formerly laboured in this vineyard, wrote a though-provoking piece last Saturday about his own opinion on politics and politicians, now that he is no longer a political correspondent. The thrust of what he was saying, if I’m interpretiing what he had to write correctly, was that, often, we political journalists cannot see the woods because of the trees. We are concerned with the minutiae, the small details, the minor daily shifts, the moving of all those small cogs and wheels. Adn that there is a broader sweep that we become conditioned to ignore.
I’ll tell you how quiet politically it is. I’ve seen graveyards where there’s been more action. On an average sitting day of the Dáil, we’d get a couple of dozen emails related to politics each day. True, a lot of them are of no consequence. But yesterday -admittedly it was a Sunday – there was a grand total of four, three of them tributes to Ronnie Drew and the fourth about Falun Gong practicioners who were being persecuted in China. (more…)
We give out at length about politicians’ holidays (and justifiably so for mediocre backbenchers who should never have got beyond county council level).
But spare a thought for Brian Cowen who is pictured today wearing a cheerful blue geansaí on his holidays in Ballyconneely in Connemara. (more…)
Way back in early 2000 Brian Cowen was made Minister for Foreign Affairs. I was editing Magill at the time and wrote a long profile, with Damian Corless, about Cowen (yep, Fianna Fail’s dauphin as the French might say).
A friend of his, a sharp-witted Labour politician, mocked him kindly. In a general comment about his social habit and dress sense, he said, yes, there have been times when Brian has spoken in the Dáil sporting a tie that had been dipped in a pint of porter the night before.
It must be terribly hard for TDs and Senators. Being bundled like that out of the public eye for the whole summer. We all felt so sorry for them yesterday, to see them look so obviously glum and heavy-hearted as they nosed their BMWs out of the gates of Leinster House and headed off for ten weeks of idleness. They will be deprived of work and will have nothing to do to occupy thier time between now and September 24. It’s a hard station, we know. But (deep mournful intake of breath) it’s the life they have chosen.
My own first week working as a specialist political journalist was in August 2003. Arriving to work in Leinster House was like a GAA correspondent being assigned to Croke Park the Tuesday after an All Ireland football final. The political atmosphere was as spent as the PDs. We still had a paper to fill. It was thankless. Scrounging around for stories. Hoping that the odd TD playing golf at Playa de Nouveau Riche or at their Atlantic-hugging holiday home might have bothered to leave their mobiles on. (more…)