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Cowen's 'circus' act hits world headlines

THE horse-and-trap, beggars and leprechauns are notably absent this time.

But international media coverage of the political crisis can still draw a cringe.

The 'New York Times', the 'Wall Street Journal' and the 'Washington Post' all used the word "circus" yesterday to describe Brian Cowen and his shambolic government.

Terms such as "implosion" and "meltdown" are also commonplace.

The 'Journal' said the Greens had "delivered the coup de grace" to a government that has "spectacularly imploded in full view of a weary and apprehensive electorate".

"Fianna Fail, which dominated Irish politics for nearly 80 years, now is bracing itself for a defeat of historic proportions in elections that could be held as early as next month," it said.

The 'Financial Times' described the implosion of the party as "extraordinary", and predicted possible "annihilation" for the party at the ballot box.

"That may be richly deserved," it added.

"This is, after all, the party that through its cronyism and incompetence, artificially prolonged the boom of the 1990s into the credit and property bubble of the past decade, and then gave a blanket guarantee to its banker friends that has ended in the humiliation of Ireland becoming a ward of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund."

The 'New York Times' said Mr Cowen's " quixotic style of leadership has exhausted even close supporters: insisting last fall that Ireland needed no bailout, until the moment he began negotiations for one; trying to rebuild his government last week without consulting the Greens, only to have them reject his proposals; and finally, bowing to demands that he quit, but insisting on remaining prime minister until after the election," it said.


The BBC said there was recognition on all sides that the political squabbling was "damaging Ireland's reputation abroad".

Reuters described the situation as a "squabble".

"Business leaders, struggling to survive in an unprecedented economic crisis, despaired at the political theatre," it said.

It was reported yesterday that 2,500 publications across 72 countries have covered Ireland's political turmoil over the past week.

'The Guardian' said there was a fear that any delay in signing the Finance Bill would cause international bond markets to conclude that Ireland was "reneging on its commitments to the IMF and the European Union to drive down its national deficit".

Irish Independent