THE Fianna Fáil “binge” and Brian Cowen’s “hangover” controversy have left a feeling that no one is in charge of the country, according to the opposition.
The Taoiseach, however, fought back, saying Fine Gael had reached a “new low” with Simon Coveney’s “distasteful” claim Mr Cowen was “halfway between drunk and hungover” when he gave a radio interview yesterday morning.
Mr Coveney, who sent the tweet that set the ball rolling for a day of controversy, said there was “no campaign to assassinate the Taoiseach’s personality”.
The controversial Morning Ireland interview in which Mr Cowen stumbled on some words and confused the Good Friday Agreement with the Croke Park deal, led to calls for a general election from the Labour Party.
“The point of no return has now been reached,” said social protection spokeswoman Roisín Shortall. “It was one of the most inept and unconvincing performances by the Taoiseach.”
The jobless were paying for the Fianna Fáil “binge” that has lasted 13 years and brought the country to its knees, said Sinn Féin. The party’s Dáil leader, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said: “The physical state of the Taoiseach Brian Cowen after the first night of his party’s think-in is far less important than what he actually said. He defended his Government’s plan to cut at least €3 billion in the forthcoming budget, devastating health and education and other public services.”
Mr Coveney said his tweet claiming Mr Cowen was between drunk and hungover, merely reflected what others were thinking.
“Like lots of other people, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing in terms of lack of clarity, lack of energy, no optimism and, what Ireland needs right now, is a Taoiseach who is full of all of those things,” he said.
“People are suffering at the moment, people are struggling with their jobs and their businesses, their sons and daughters are emigrating,” he said.
Ms Shortall said the Taoiseach had “shrugged his shoulders” at a number of important issues, such as the children’s rights referendum, by-elections and a ban on corporate donations.
“He didn’t give any indication that he was on top of his brief and that he appreciated the scale of the issues facing the country,” she said.
“That sort of performance does nothing to restore any confidence in the country and, indeed, it creates the feeling that no one is in charge,” she said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved