Tuesday 21 October 2014

Fionnan Sheahan: Embattled Taoiseach still not a patch on Europe's bad boys

Published 17/09/2010 | 05:00

MICHEAL O Muircheartaigh's best-known impersonator isn't planning on applying to replace the legendary RTE broadcaster.

Three days after he regaled the Fianna Fail parliamentary party drink-in with his impression of the GAA commentator's unique style, Brian Cowen was still nursing the proverbial hangover from his late night and early morning shenanigans.

Mr Cowen did manage to crack a smile when asked about the 80-year-old's retirement and whether he had any intention of changing careers to fill the void. "I always say imitation is the best form of flattery," he said.

Paying tribute to the Kerryman, the Taoiseach described his passion for the sport.

"It was just part of that unique style that I don't think can be repeated by anybody. Some of us, as I say, in a benign way, hope to imitate him from time to time. But there will never be another Micheal O Muircheartaigh," he said.

The light moment lifted the pressure from a shaken Taoiseach clearly watching his words.

Standing loyally by his side, Micheal Martin was looking forward to Micheal's final All-Ireland on Sunday.

"I just want to say, it's very appropriate for Micheal as a Kerryman to have his last game commenting on a Cork All-Ireland victory," he said.

Given the way things are going, Mr Cowen was potentially attending his last EU summit as Taoiseach. He's not out of the woods yet. Although a renowned mimic, the Taoiseach wasn't putting on any act yesterday as he was on his best behaviour in Brussels.

Chastened

The only role he was playing was that of the chastened leader, worried about his future. Softly spoken, calm and composed, there were no stutters or stumbles as he spoke at the end of the summit, apart from a minor confusion when speaking in Irish -- but nothing seismic. Overall, there was a distinct lack of 'congestion'.

After his intervention the day before put pressure on the Taoiseach, Mr Martin stood on the right side of his leader, with Dick Roche behind him. Both ministers nodded in unison at the correct moments when their Taoiseach made a point of note.

Mr Cowen didn't offer any examples of how he intends to learn the lessons Mr Martin said were in the pipeline after the debacle. Anyway, some solace can be found in EU land for the Taoiseach, as he's not the most divisive leader in Europe.

That particular accolade goes to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is fuming after his policy of deporting Roma was compared by a European commissioner to the Nazis. Kind of puts the accusation of being "halfway between drunk and hungover" in the ha'penny place.

And his antics are nothing compared to the MEP who found himself banned from his hotel in Strasbourg after being found drunk and urinating into a flower pot in the hotel corridor.

Thankfully, the 'New Europe' newspaper notes, the "plants were not in bloom at the time".

It seems that Mr Cowen's own wilting leadership still has a bit of life left in it.

Irish Independent

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