Ard Fheis tune had drug-taking references

One of the feelgood tunes used to inspire delegates at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis contains references to illegal drug-taking, it emerged today.

One of the feelgood tunes used to inspire delegates at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis contains references to illegal drug-taking, it emerged today.

The Chelsea Dagger track by Scottish band The Fratellis was blasted out at the Citywest Hotel as Minister for Finance Brian Cowen began his warm-up speech before the Taoiseach’s televised address.

Only the upbeat chorus was heard by delegates but verses in the song twice refer to a girl that "gave me gear" - common slang for drugs, particularly heroin.

Europe Against Drugs (Eurad) international president Grainne Kenny said it was extremely bad taste for the senior Government party to play the song in front of 5,000 delegates.

“It was wholly inappropriate and in very bad taste. And I would go further and say that the party owes an apology to the families that have been affected by drugs.

“I have just come from a conference in Scotland where I met relatives of victims ravaged by drugs, and I can tell you they wouldn’t be impressed one bit by this.”

The Chelsea Dagger song was the biggest hit from the Glasgow band’s 2006 album, Costello Music.

The Fratellis won Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit music awards in London last month.

Fine Gael got into trouble in 2005 when the party played Here Come

The Good Times at a conference without first asking permission from its performers A House.

Ms Kenny added: “Why couldn’t they have played Handel’s Messiah or something that wouldn’t have offended anybody.

“They probably lost the run of themselves in all the excitement of slapping each other on their backs, in their good suits.”

Earlier, other less controversial feelgood tunes rang out across the auditorium as other government ministers sprang onto the podium.

Earlier Minister for Social and Family Affairs Seamus Brennan stepped forward to talk about the general election campaign to the strains of On The Road Again by country star Willie Nelson.

Then footage of a vox pop praising Fianna Fáil was soundtracked by Sit Down by UK band James.

The Curtis Mayfield classic Move On Up also blared across a montage of images from the same period.

An old T.Rex hit, Get It On was played over clips of 1980s Ireland, even though the song was released in 1972.

As Mr Ahern strode through the audience for his keynote address, the upbeat Place Your Hands by Reef reverberated through the hall.

Later, as Mr Ahern received a standing ovation at the end of his speech and green flags fluttered in the audience, the Roxy Music track Let’s Stick Together rang out across the conference centre.

The 71st Ard Fheis had a record attendance but had a heavy garda presence due to a number of protests.

The Taoiseach pledged a €4bn tax package over the next five years to reduce the burden on middle and lower income earners.

He also promised to increase the state pension to €300 a week and recruit an extra 2,000 gardaí to bring the Force’s numbers to 16,000.

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