'Stumbling' Taoiseach slammed by opponents
LABOUR'S Pat Rabbitte launched a withering attack on Brian Cowen last night, describing his RTE radio interview as not coherent, evasive, stumbling and confusing.
Mr Rabbitte was speaking as Fianna Fail attempted to deflect controversy over Mr Cowen's interview on to a short statement made on Twitter by Fine Gael's Simon Coveney.
It emerged Mr Coveney joined hundreds of people commenting online on Mr Cowen -- whose interview was heard by more than 300,000 radio listeners.
Mr Coveney said the Taoiseach sounded halfway between "drunk and hungover".
An hour later, with the fall-out from Mr Cowen's interview and Mr Coveney's comments raging, Fine Gael's finance spokesman Michael Noonan waded in and claimed the game was up for the Taoiseach.
The Fine Gael TD questioned Mr Cowen's ability to lead the country after the "uninspiring" interview.
Mr Rabbitte upped the ante last night by claiming the whole controversy was damaging to the morale of the country and its reputation abroad.
With the Dail set to return in two weeks, Mr Rabbitte claimed the public was entitled to some leadership initiatives and coherent plans from the Taoiseach.
"Whatever else you might say about the interview this morning, it was not coherent. It was evasive. It was stumbling. It was lacking in certainty. It was confusing," he said. "He (Mr Cowen) was not on top of his game. It (the interview) added to the lack of confidence that's in the country."
The controversy surrounding the RTE interview could now spell the end for the Fianna Fail-led government, Mr Noonan suggested.
"He (Mr Cowen) certainly didn't sound like a man who was going to lead the country out of the problems it's now in," he added.
Labour's Roisin Shortall claimed the below-par interview must rank as one of the "most inept and unconvincing" ever given by a Taoiseach in the history of the State. "The point of no return has now been reached," Ms Shortall said.
"Only a general election and the return of a new government with a fresh mandate can rescue the country from the morass into which Fianna Fail has led it."
Last night, Mr Coveney stood by his original remarks on Twitter, despite enduring a day of criticism from Fianna Fail ministers and the Taoiseach.
"Of course I stand over it. I was frustrated and angry after the Taoiseach's interview this morning," Mr Coveney said.
Amid accusations from Fianna Fail of a political agenda, Mr Coveney claimed that there was "no campaign to assassinate" the Taoiseach's personality.
"He was totally unclear on almost all of the questions he was asked," Mr Coveney said.
"He didn't inspire confidence that he was in charge and had a plan to steer Ireland through the huge challenges that we face."
Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said the issue was not the Taoiseach's physical state but the state of the nation as a result of "disastrous" Fianna Fail policies.