Leadership lesson for Cowen

WHATEVER one thinks of how the Government is handling the economic crisis, there is widespread agreement that our leaders could be doing a better job in communicating with the rest of us about what is going on and what the future may hold for us.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen could follow the example of US president Franklin D Roosevelt.

FDR used his famous “fireside chats” not just to keep the nation informed about government efforts to tackle the Great Depression that beset America in the 1930s, but to try and bring the people with him in his quest to lift the country out of economic collapse.

A repeated theme of these informal radio addresses was the need to restore faith in the banks and to support measures aimed at economic reform and recovery, his New Deal to get America back on its feet. The broadcasts varied in length from 15 to 45 minutes and were delivered in simple, jargon-free language. His very first such chat, incidentally, was on the specific subject of... the “banking crisis”.

Though not a Fianna Fáil supporter, I would like to see the Taoiseach take a leaf from FDR’s book. I’m sure RTÉ or TV3 would not be averse to the idea of facilitating such broadcasts to the Irish nation at this pivotal turning point in our history, with so much at stake for ourselves and future generations of our people. While it might not solve all our problems, it would at least help to address the chronic communication deficit that does little to endear the present government and Taoiseach to most of us. Brian Cowen could tell us in plain, no-nonsense terms stripped of political ruse what the situation is and keep us up to speed on developments that will so profoundly affect our lives.

It’s also worth remembering that no matter how awful things seem, they could be a darn sight worse: After the depression began to ease off, President Roosevelt turned his attention to other major issues of the day. One of his most famous addresses began with the words: “Yesterday... December 7th, 1941... a date that will live in infamy...”

He was, of course, referring to the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbour that plunged his country into World War II. Our own December 7, while not a day to look forward to, thankfully will not be that bad.

John Fitzgerald

Lr Coyne Street


Co Kilkenny

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