Sunday 24 June 2018

Barry Cowen: Brian, drink, lies and abuse

Interview: The Sunday Independent's Niamh Horan with Barry Cowen in Tullamore, Co Offaly Photo: Steve Humphreys
Interview: The Sunday Independent's Niamh Horan with Barry Cowen in Tullamore, Co Offaly Photo: Steve Humphreys
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Fianna Fail housing spokesman Barry Cowen has opened up for the first time about the abuse his brother, former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, suffered at the height of the fallout from the financial crisis.

He said he would have found it difficult to maintain his brother's dignified silence in the face of the abuse he faced on the street. He also rubbished any suggestion that alcohol affected the former Taoiseach's ability to do his job during the bailout.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Cowen says he believes certain sections of the media had a role to play in the tarring of Brian's name, and details one instance, which made him feel "absolutely disgusted".

The Offaly politician, who turned 50 last week, also spoke about how a serious illness suffered in recent years has changed his perspective on life. He also addressed the use of the term 'BIFFO' and described how their mother May dealt with the criticism of her son.

Mr Cowen was speaking as he staunchly defended his proposals to reduce construction industry VAT rates - stressing that the proposal to cut VAT from 13.5pc to 9pc is specifically targeting the provision of affordable housing and for only three years.

"My detractors and opponents have jumped on the bandwagon to say 'oh we are back to the Galway tent', 'we are back to people propping up big developers','' he said. "They are using all of this emotive language that plays on people's minds.''

He said that his critics "want people to believe it's a VAT holiday across the sector. It is not. The cost they quoted - €240m - applies across the sector. It wouldn't be as high as that."

Sunday Independent

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