Cowen back in the public eye, but he's refusing to talk politics
Published 27/02/2012 | 05:00
FORMER Taoiseach Brian Cowen was back in the public eye briefly last night -- but he was firmly holding on to his private citizen status.
The ex-politician was down in his pal Paidi O Se's pub in Ventry, Co Kerry, to launch an exhibition of photographs by John Cleary.
Looking relaxed and enjoying a pint of the black stuff, Brian was happy to chat to the Irish Independent -- so long as it wasn't about politics.
"I'm out of all that now. I'm doing my own thing at the moment but I'm a private citizen now and that's it. No comment on politics," he said firmly.
When asked if he'd be attending the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis next weekend, he was non-committal.
"We'll see, we'll see what the arrangements are for that. I wish them all the best," he said.
So just how has life has been for the former Fianna Fail leader since he exited public life? He admitted it was "a big adjustment".
"It's a big adjustment to make when you devote most of your adult life to something. It's a big part of your life but I wish all the lads well that are still working away and have an involvement," he said.
So what about the noises being made by former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue and Cork North Central TD Noel Flynn that they might re-enter the ring? "That's a matter for themselves. I wish them all well and I'd encourage anyone to work with the party in whatever capacity they can contribute," said Private Citizen Cowen.
Last night, it was clear that he was relishing just being one of the boys, free to relax and mingle with old friends.
"I've been coming here for years," he said. "I know Paidi for a long, long time and it's always nice to come back here and speak the language (Gaeilge), enjoy the company and talk about football."
Also making the trip to west Kerry last night were Dion and Stephen Fanning, sons of the late 'Sunday Independent' editor Aengus Fanning, who was fondly remembered at the prize-giving for the Tayto/Longford Arms Comortas Peile Paidi O Se football tournament.
The player of the tournament trophy was named after Mr Fanning, a Kerry native and longtime friend of Paidi.
Independent News and Media chief executive Joe Webb, who presented the trophy to Cora Staunton from Carnacon in Mayo, said Mr Fanning's recent death had taken his colleagues by "great surprise" even though they knew of his illness.
"The loss of Aengus was a very traumatic event for all us but most of all for his family," Mr Webb said.
Dion Fanning said it was a great honour to return to the county that had meant so much to his father.
"Paidi was a great friend of his and they had great times together," he said.
Earlier, Mary Earley, widow of former Defence Forces chief Dermot Earley, presented the Dermot Earley Memorial Cup to Tuam All-Stars who beat Dingle in the final of the competition.