ALAS Monsieur Biffo we don’t recognise vous.
These were no doubt the thoughts of a group of bemused French tourists when Taoiseach Brian Cowen started pressing the flesh for a Lisbon Treaty yes vote in Cork yesterday.
During his European love-in the Taoiseach found it quite hard to find Corkonians on the streets of Cork. No shortage of Europeans though.
On exiting the Imperial Hotel with his troops he decided to ask a young man sitting at a nearby bus stop to vote yes.
Unfortunately the young man happened to be David Musiebek, a Pole who told Mr Cowen he didn’t speak much English.
Next up was a young lady from Rochestown. The Taoiseach shook her by the hand and asked her to support the treaty.
Unfortunately, Toni Quinn replied that she wasn’t yet 18, and therefore couldn’t vote.
He tried his luck with a group of ladies, only to find out they were from Normandy, France.
One of them, Nadege Paisant, wanted to know what all the fuss was about. She was later informed that the man who shook her hand was the Irish version of Sarkozy. It really didn’t cut that much ice.
Brian Cowen then tried to impress the need for EU reform on somebody who was actually from Cork and could vote. However, Steve Carey, from Gilabbey Street, had his mind on other things.
“I’m worried about our pensions in the next budget,” the 77-year-old said. “We’ve always been good on pensions,” retorted the Taoiseach.
Success was finally gained in Oliver Plunkett Street when Ena O’Donovan told Cowen that she was honoured to meet him and would vote as he asked.
Next up it was two women from Newcastle — no votes there, either.
The Taoiseach then spent some time talking about soccer to Man Utd fans Lee and Rio Parker. No votes there as they were seven and eight respectively.
But they did know who they were conversing with, which must have reassured Cowen somewhat.
Lots of well-wishers congratulated him on becoming the country’s leader and there seemed a genuine warmth from Cork people, when he finally caught up with them around the English Market.
Several parents used mobile phones to take pictures of Cowen with their children, and he even signed a few autographs.
Eimear Herlihy and Aisling Kenneally, both 12 and from Mitchelstown, reckoned their friends would be jealous that they’d shaken the Offaly man’s hand.
Ger O’Leary, from Patrick’s Hill, told Mr Cowen he didn’t understand the treaty and nobody had managed to sell it to him.
“It’s all gobbledegook,” he added.
Large crowds gathered in the Ballincollig Shopping Centre later in the evening when the Taoiseach arrived on the yes canvass. He’d asked to meet Declan Kidney there and the legendary coach obliged, bringing the coveted Heineken Cup with him.
It was stressed that Kidney wasn’t there for any political reasons, he was simply there at the request of Mr Cowen, who was in Cardiff last Saturday week to watch Munster’s victory.
He presented Cowen with a Munster jersey.
Local girl Joy Mulcahy, 14, said she wasn't there for the Taoiseach — she just wanted to see Declan Kidney and the cup.
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