Sunday 17 December 2017

Cowen blasts opposition as the 'bad-news brigade'

Taoiseach Brian Cowen tucks in to a cupcake offered to him by six-year-old Alissa McManus, from Tuam, Co Galway, yesterday during his tour of the West.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen tucks in to a cupcake offered to him by six-year-old Alissa McManus, from Tuam, Co Galway, yesterday during his tour of the West.

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen went to Connacht and told the opposition to go to hell.

He used a rally of the party faithful in Loughrea, Co Galway, to launch his most personalised attack yet on Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

He accused them of being part of the "bad news brigade" who were damaging the country's reputation abroad and would be "happy" to see the country's credit rating damaged due to their opposition to his bank bailout plan.

A fired-up Mr Cowen described Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore as "Spinning Jennies" (the machines that powered the Industrial Revolution in Britain).

But the Taoiseach seemed to want the party faithful to know that there would be no political revolution anytime soon.

"People are too smart to believe these simple bogey man stories. The people know it takes more than guff and bluster. It will take hard work, serious commitment and a focus on success to see us through," he said.

And he kept piling on the insults. Fine Gael and Labour offered "instability" and instead of looking forward, they couldn't help looking backward "like Lot's wife".

Even more seriously, he accused them of talking the country down to talk themselves up and warned that "loose talk costs jobs".

"I am fed up with them continuously trying to misrepresent our economic condition, because those attacks are not only heard by voters, they are also heard by investors in boardrooms abroad," he said.

Around 100 of the Fianna Fail faithful, including Galway TDs Michael Kitt and Noel Treacy and north west Euro election candidate and former senator Paschal Mooney, listened in the Lough Rea Hotel as Mr Cowen heaped scorn on the opposition.

This was more like a business presentation than the blazing turf processions mounted by Fianna Fail in the past. But Mr Cowen's rousing appeal to them to be proud of their party got him a standing ovation.

The tone of Mr Cowen's attack on Mr Kenny (born in Castlebar, Co Mayo) and Mr Gilmore (born in Ahascragh, Co Galway) in their own backyard will infuriate Fine Gael and Labour.

The warm welcome he got in Loughrea was very different to the reception accorded to him during the first stage of his tour to the West in Carrick-on-Shannon.


The Save Sligo's Cancer Services group disrupted his photocall with Fianna Fail's Leitrim councillors by hoisting up a giant protest banner in the background.

They chanted at him that his party would suffer the consequences for removing breast cancer services from Sligo Hospital. Mr Cowen walked silently into the town's Bush Hotel while gardai kept the protesters back.

In Roscommon town, he had to fend off a very direct question from a German television reporter: "Why is your party not popular?"

"We're confident we will do well in those elections," he said.

In the Lough Rea Hotel, Mr Cowen echoed this sentiment, telling the party faithful that he was looking forward to the elections "with confidence in our capability".

"Our party will not go away. This party will continue to go out and put our case to the people," he said.

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