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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are we missing the real scandal?

I did not hear live coverage of the now infamous Morning Ireland interview with Taoiseach Brian Cowen. As the morning progressed I listened to news bulletins on various radio stations talking about the interview. Simon Coveney’s tweet set the story on fire. Within minutes the news went viral and was carried around the world. Like it or not – the International story was one of a drunk leader in charge of a sinking country. Not a pretty picture.

I listened to a podcast of the interview several times. My first impression was that it was not as bad as it was made out to be. The Taoiseach was hoarse and probably a little hung over but in my opinion not drunk. He was certainly incoherent and exercised bad judgement in doing the interview. What was missed as the day progressed was the real story.

The real story had little to do with the state of the Taoiseach’s appearance and more to do with the state of the country. The Taoiseach spoke about savage cuts and the taking of €3billion from the real economy. He suggested cuts in expenditure and tax increases which will hurt low to middle income earners. He refused to answer a question about the holding of the by-elections and was evasive on banning corporate donations.

However it was what the Taoiseach did not say that troubled me most. He said nothing about a jobs plan and getting the unemployed back to work. He failed to inspire any confidence in the ability of the Government to help those out of work. He had no vision for the country’s future and offered no hope. His only promise was to continue with the failed slash and burn policies of the last few years.

While the media focus in the time ahead may be on Cowen’s rendition of the Lakes of Pontchartrain or his impersonation of Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh Government Ministers will be busy planning savage cuts that will further exacerbate the problems in the economy. Surely this is the real scandal.

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