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Cowen's global hangover

BRIAN Cowen’s hangover went global today.

As the country’s economic standing plummets, the world’s most influential publications and websites reported on the Taoiseach’s late night drink-in.

Coverage of the debacle featured in 457 articles in 400 publications across 26 countries.

The Wall Street Journal said the timing of Cowen’s “bizzare ... slurred and tired” interview, “couldn’t be worse”.

The hugely influential publication said today that the country’s spiralling debt crisis was “fuelling concerns about the Government’s ability to weather the storm”.

Fianna Fail TDs were reeling after their annual think-in was renamed the “drink-in”.

Party sources are annoyed that Mr Cowen went on Morning Ireland despite only going to bed after 3.20am.

He could only have gotten around four hours sleep after his stand-up performances in Blazers' bar in the The Ardilaun Hotel.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Mr Cowen "had particular problems articulating the following: 'We've stabilised our situation. Our budgetary plans are on target.'"

Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin said that Mr Cowen would be "the first to realise the fallout from this".

Fianna Fail TDs had spent the night clinking glasses and even joked that Ivor Callely would have loved the event. As they downed pints and shorts, some Fianna Fail members poked fun at Enda Kenny saying that he would never be able to throw a party like it.

Mr Kenny went to bed at 12.30am after one pint when Fine Gael had their conference dinner at the Faithlegg Country Club in Waterford last week.

However, the Fianna Fail revellers -- led by the Taoiseach -- stayed up well past 3am. Government backbenchers were today slow to criticise the Taoiseach over his slurred radio interview, as many of them were egging him on during the late night routine.

However, party sources have admitted that it was "a mistake" to allow him to go on Morning Ireland with so-called "nasal congestion".

As they left The Ardilaun Hotel in Galway yesterday, one TD told the Herald that it was "pity" that things turned out the way they did.

Some were annoyed that Mr Cowen's advisors allowed him to do the interview.

"This is just a really unfortunate situation. They should have told RTE that he was feeling unwell," said a source, who added: "There were plenty of ministers around the hotel so any of them could have filled in."

Another said: "Tanaiste Mary Coughlan was gone to bed early. It's her job to stand-in when the Taoiseach isn't up to it but that wasn't even considered."

Mr Cowen had backbenchers, ministers and journalists in stitches of laughter as he performed two comedy sketches and a song.

His aides then watched as Mr Cowen slipped away to bed at 3.21am.

Bizarre

On a bizarre night at the Fianna Fail think-in, parliamentary party members threw caution to the wind, even joking at one point that Enda Kenny would never be able to throw "a party like this".

However, a Fine Gael source told the Herald today that the idea of Mr Kenny throwing such a session was "laughable".

"When we throw parties, we are still fit for business the next day," said a party source.

Minister Martin was again sent out to defend the Taoiseach today and argued that there is no question over his leadership. "We're saying now to everybody that you should be in bed before 11," he said, adding that Mr Cowen attended "every single minute of every single session" at the think-in. He added that Albert Reynolds used to regularly stay up part 3am drinking tea and coffee.


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