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Sunday 30 April 2017

Drinking buddies 'had Cowen's ear'

Mark Hilliard

FORMER Taoiseach Brian Cowen relied too heavily on a 'bar-room lobby' of close friends and confidantes while running the country, it has been claimed.

In power, Mr Cowen -- who attracted global attention following an alleged 'drunk' radio interview in 2010 -- was said to have been heavily influenced by those he drank with.

In the second part of TV3's upcoming documentary on the Fianna Fail party, many of Mr Cowen's former colleagues cast doubt over his leadership.

Backbenchers believe that an 'insider-outsider' atmosphere existed with limited access to the Taoiseach's ear, and that the parliamentary party was often left out in the cold.

John McGuinness TD, who was removed from his junior ministerial seat along with six others in April 2009, said: "They were friends of the Taoiseach is how you would describe them. He would socialise with them, he would be supported by them. He would probably be informed by them in terms of the goings on generally within the parliamentary party.

"Those who socialised in the bar with the Taoiseach were the ones who had the ear of the Taoiseach."

Scathing

Former party whip Tom Kitt added to the criticism saying there was a sense that there was an "exclusive" set-up. But not everyone was so scathing.

"The impression is created that Brian Cowen spent his time at the Dail bar; that is not true," said John Moloney, another former junior minister.

"Brian Cowen had that ability, unlike many politicians, of retaining the same friends over the past 30 years.

''The people we're talking about here would have been friends with his father and with himself as he was going into the Dail."

Irish Independent

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