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Sunday 22 October 2017

Sun-splashed Cowen locked out of grand opening

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE SUN can work wonders for morale.

Over the weekend, people threw on the shorts and sandals and the various Senor Whippys across the country put their wagons back on the road and fed the people of Ireland 99s and banana (republic) splits.

Heck, the good weather, which continued yesterday, even put the Taoiseach in a good mood.

Nothing could rain on Brian Cowen's parade -- not Quinn in the High Court, car bombs in Co Down, his pay deal being torpedoed, not even locked doors.

Mr Cowen was on a world tour of Roscrea yesterday as he traversed the Tipperary town to open schools and swimming pools and visit enterprise centres.

It was just like being a boomtime Taoiseach and it was no wonder he was in flying form.

But the opening of a new extension at Scoil Iosef Naofa in Corville hit a small glitch when Mr Cowen and principal John Slattery cut the ribbon and turned to open the doors only to find they were locked out.

Maybe the militant teachers had spread their campaign against pay cuts to embarrass the Taoiseach on one of the few days he was delivering some good news. It was shaping up to be Big Brian Cowen and the 2010 lockout, although we're pretty sure he wouldn't have the support of the current labour movement.

The Taoiseach gave the door a bit of a shake but it wouldn't budge and someone was sent to get a key.

And when they eventually got inside, Mr Cowen nodded along as the students gave a hearty rendition of their school song.

"We are the children of Corville school," they sang. "We take pride in the things we do."

It's a better tune than the one adopted by teachers at their conferences last week ('One, two, three, four, can we have a little more?') and Mr Cowen was also treated to a spot of banjo playing by 11-year-old Darragh Carey-Kennedy, already a three time All-Ireland champion.

The students told the Taoiseach how they had achieved their second green flag for saving energy by, amongst other things, making teachers bring their tea to work in a flask.

Who needs An Bord Snip to identify savings in the public sector when you can get 10-year-olds to do the job just as well, Taoiseach?

But there was trouble brewing down the road. The Rural Ireland Says Enough (RISE!) crowd were out in force to harass the Taoiseach over the Green Party-driven stag hunting ban. They were lying in wait for Mr Cowen at the Roscrea Leisure Centre, a fine new building which houses a swimming pool, gyms and saunas.

Up to 200 RISE! supporters were there blowing whistles and generally giving Mr Cowen a bit of stick, but they should have been slightly wary of the fellas in woolly jumpers across the road and in the centre doing their best not to look suspicious, but failing miserably.

The call had gone out the night before from the various FF councillors in north Tipp and Offaly. The Taoiseach, who went to secondary school in Roscrea, was on home turf and no one was to cause too much of a fuss.

And so members from cumainn in Shinrone, Coolderry, Moneygall, Dunkerrin and other places came out to support The Boss.

"Just in case things get a bit heavy," one cumann member said. Watch out RISE! -- you're playing senior hurling now.

Irish Independent

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