Saturday 3 December 2016

Nicola Anderson: Brian gets taste for humble pie on the hustings

Published 09/02/2011 | 05:00

FORCED to resign as Taoiseach and 17 days later, out on the hustings to campaign for the younger brother -- humble pie doesn't come any less appetising than this.

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But it was a dish that Brian Cowen was willing to dig into -- and in a surprisingly upbeat mood -- as he hit the streets of Edenderry, Co Offaly, in his erstwhile constituency, now playing sidekick to his brother Barry.

"Generally there's a good welcome, but there are people who are in difficulty," the Taoiseach admitted.

"In some cases they are saying they won't be supporting us and in other cases they are saying they will stick with us."

In the new mood of Fianna Fail, the Taoiseach was making few promises as he hit the doors.

"There's no immediate magic wand. I think everybody realises that."

A couple in one estate politely told the Taoiseach they would not be voting Fianna Fail.

"I've lost two jobs in two years," the man said.

"The bankers aren't even being held accountable."

Despite the Taoiseach's insistence that the DPP was pursuing the bankers, the man held firm.

"It's a difficult time for people, you would be very naive coming out to start to canvass to think it would be otherwise but there is good support for us, we have good hard-working councillors here," the Taoiseach remarked afterwards.

"We have to get out there and ask for the votes and answer the questions and where there are no immediate answers, be frank and candid with the people," he added.

A curious thing appears to have happened to the soldiers of destiny.

In the midst of their implosion, they have finally and rather belatedly discovered an appetite for truth.

They appear to be making some sort of progress in shedding their oil-slick coating of constant spin.

Mostly because they know they have nothing to lose and probably because they have been freed from the burden of their terrible secret that we were heading for the precipice, Fianna Fail have found their honesty gene and are giddy, nay almost reckless, with the new sensation.

A press conference at the party HQ on Dublin's Mount Street yesterday showed Brian Lenihan and Micheal Martin on twin pulpits of transparent plastic (see, nothing to hide).

"We need to accept that the old ways of doing things no longer work," said the Fianna Fail leader.

Of course he meant the old Fianna Fail way of doing things as whose other ways were there in the old order?

And therein the problem lies -- we can't help knowing what we do know of the way they used to do things. But at least they're trying.

THE atmosphere grew a little testy when they were asked how they could justify "trousering" €90,000 in pay-offs as former ministers.

Drily, Brian thanked the journalist for doing the maths but reminding him that it was "fully subject to income tax" and therefore, half that.

Those arrangements had been put in place as far back as 1992 and, he seemed to indicate, could not be tampered with.

Micheal took a little road trip out to the Claymon Biomnis laboratory in Sandyford -- the link being that the outgoing Tom Kitt had taught the company's Logistics Director David Norris.

At a later flying visit to the Dundrum Town Centre, they were practically humble; nodding as they were reprimanded by shoppers about how the Government had spent "astronomically".

"This is a very tough and volatile constituency," Mr Kitt declared of Dublin South.

But the party was putting a big effort in now because it wants to be strong in opposition, he said, in an almost breath-takingly honest admission of certain failure. "Oh yes," he nodded, they are being frank about it, shrugging as if to say why not.

Irish Independent

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