“TAKE the pledge” was the solution being offered by a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party member and long standing friend of Brian Cowen, who is advising the Taoiseach that giving up drink is the only answer to saving his reputation.
But it seemed that any advice may already have come too late.
By last night, the man once regarded as the brightest of politicians, a promising leader in whom everyone had great hope, a man regarded as a “decent, honest politician with no baggage” according to a colleague, was forced to stand at the front of Government Buildings and grovel to the people.
Earlier, Mr Cowen had hoped to keep a low profile and journalists were turned away from a lunchtime launch in the gardens of Government Buildings of a TG4 documentary on the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation.
But with the unfolding of events it was inevitable that he had to swallow his pride and put his best face forward on the TV.
His interview on Six One News was a desperate move, begging the nation for forgiveness was a pathetic situation for any leader to find himself in and no doubt a personal embarrassment.
Like a bold schoolboy standing up in front of the teacher, he said: “I would like to apologise if people were to take from it that there was any suggestion of disrespect or casualness on my part that wasn’t the case.”
A colleague had earlier said Mr Cowen was going through a “dark and depressing few days ” because of the events unfolding around him.
But the interview failed to address the questions that have been left open about how much he had to drink in Galway, if going to bed late affected his performance the following day and whether his sing song was appropriate for the leader of a country where thousands are suffering.
Despite his well intended apology, the damage is already done.
Concerns remain among the public who remain less convinced than ever before of his ability to lead the country.
The Taoiseach said he hoped the episode would not damage his reputation among party colleagues and that he “would recognise that there are times that when something doesn’t go well you have to acknowledge it”. He did not sound convinced that they will give him a second chance.
His colleagues face the choice of damage limitation by installing a new leader before the general election.
Any further bad publicity about Mr Cowen’s performances or behaviour and they can no longer credibly turn a blind eye.
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