Michael Gove’s use of cocaine

Sir, – Your readers are by now accustomed to Fintan O'Toole's columns on Brexit being laden with vitriolic abuse directed at supporters of the ill-fated project, but his assault on Michael Gove really takes the biscuit ("Fintan O'Toole: Gove's cocaine use may explain his attack on the peace process", Opinion & Analysis June 11th).

Referencing his views on Northern Ireland, he alleges that Mr Gove “was dosing himself with cocaine before writing his columns and pamphlets” and that his essay on the Belfast Agreement, published in 2000, was a “coked-up rant”.

These comments are outrageous given that, as your own newspaper reported last week, Mr Gove has admitted to nothing of the sort, saying only that he used cocaine “on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago” (News, June 8th).

Love him or loathe him, Mr Gove is one of the most talented politicians in the Tory Party, and a fiercely articulate conservative intellectual. Fintan O’Toole’s ad hominem attack on him must be viewed in this light, and appears to be driven by malice and an inability to challenge the (sadly) powerful strength of many of his arguments.


Over the last decade a range of left-wing Irish politicians have admitted to dabbling in drugs in their youth. Curiously, I don’t recall Fintan O’Toole penning any columns which attempted to link their past drug use with their later political decisions.

Is it his contention that drug use only clouds the judgment of conservative and right-wing political figures?

This kind of personalised abuse has no place in your newspaper, let alone when it is masquerading as serious commentary on issues of vital importance to Irish interests. – Yours, etc,


Harolds Cross,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole sniffs out a connection between Michael Grove’s cocaine use and the grandiosity of his polemical writings.

Sigmund Freud was a pioneer of the genre.

The first scientific publication by the founder of psychoanalysis, Über Coca, describes “the most gorgeous excitement” on taking it, followed by “exhilaration and lasting euphoria”.

Dr Freud developed a serious liking for the “magical substance” and dished out the powdery panacea generously to the middle-class Viennese neurotics who came to him for a chat.

After 12 years of compulsive use, Freud gave up cocaine and published his universal theory of the mind and human nature.

It may be prudent to keep Michael Gove away from Number 10. – Yours, etc,