THE TANAISTE lived up to her 'Calamity Coughlan' nickname yesterday.
The gaffe-prone minister was left red-faced after she erroneously referred to the theory of evolution as having been formulated by Einstein.
To make matters worse, the Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister had just mentioned the Government's strategy of Building Ireland's Smart Economy.
Speaking without notes to an invited audience of entrepreneurs to promote IDA Ireland's "aggressive" new campaign to market Ireland aboard, Ms Coughlan touched on the idea of the survival of the fittest.
She said the IDA would be marketing Ireland as the innovation island -- "like Einstein explaining his theory of evolution".
The scientific basis for evolution, which has moved from theory to accepted truth, was first promulgated by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book 'On the Origin of Species'.
Ironically, Darwin's profile has never been higher, with many commemorative events this year to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of his landmark work.
Einstein, born 70 years after Darwin, formulated the theory of relativity in the last century to explain concepts of how time and space blur the laws of physics. It has nothing to do with survival of the fittest.
It was Ms Coughlan's second gaffe in a week -- after she referred to the Green Party in a radio interview in Irish as "na Glasrai", instead of "An Comhaontas Glas". The phrase "na glasrai" means "the vegetables".
A spokesman for the Tanaiste said last night: "Yes, it was said. Darwin was evolution and Einstein was relativity -- we all read our science books in school."