Monday 9 December 2019

Show goes on for jovial Taoiseach at Misery Hill

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

MISERY HILL in Dublin's docklands sounded like an apt place for the Taoiseach to visit yesterday.

The docklands and, more specifically, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), have been casting a shadow over Brian Cowen for a few weeks now.

The publication of a report by Professor Niamh Brennan on corporate governance at the DDDA is eagerly awaited by political circles, with former Green Party Senator Deirdre de Burca predicting it would send a shiver down Fianna Fail spines.

And revelations of taxpayer-funded caviar, champagne and plush hotels for Seanie Fitz and other former DDDA board members further fuelled the public feeling that Fianna Fail, the bankers and developers were indulging in an extended menage a trois throughout the decadent Celtic Tiger years.

But Misery Hill shows how the docklands have been changed for good, and is the site for the spectacular new Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre.

The €75m venue, owned by Harry Crosbie, is also just a stone's throw from the Irish Glass Bottle site, the ultimate Tiger folly, bought for €412m with help from the DDDA.

Mr Cowen, who has been filling in for former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea since he resigned from Cabinet, also seemed to be assuming Martin Cullen's role in arts, sports and tourism as he toured the new venue. Just hours before his resignation from cabinet was confirmed, the Taoiseach picked up Mr Cullen's duties, collecting another department for his ever-growing collection.


Maybe the impending reshuffle will be more like the night of the long knives, with our Fuhrer purging his enemies and consolidating his power.

But Herr Cowen was in jovial form yesterday after visiting Mr Crosbie's plush canal-side home and then his new 2,111-capacity theatre, which opens next week with 'Swan Lake' from the Russian State Ballet.

"What can you bring here that you couldn't bring before?" inquired a curious Taoiseach. Mr Crosbie said 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' was on its way to the capital. The show -- which is not a dramatisation of Mr Cowen's clapped-out Government -- couldn't previously come because there was no venue with suitable facilities for West End-style productions.

Mr Crosbie said his venue, which complemented the O2 across the river, would also play host to the best Irish performers had to offer.

"It's beautiful, absolutely incredible," Mr Cowen said, and all were in agreement.

"We've got doors there at the back so a show can be out of here in two hours," Mr Crosbie added. Some voters would like a similar electoral system, which would enable them to shove Cowen et al off the stage before the encore.

The acoustics in the venue are also touted as top drawer. What chance of a certain someone christening the new stage with a bar or two of 'The Offaly Rover'?

'Tis a far cry from the back of a lorry in Tullamore, but you've got to reach for the stars, Taoiseach, just like 'All-Ireland Talent Show' finalists Na Fianna. Mr Cowen met the band in Government Buildings after his Grand Canal trip. Perhaps he can arrange a gig for them in the new venue. He's well got with that Crosbie fella, don't ya know?

Irish Independent

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