The much maligned Fianna Fáil ‘drink-in’ think-in held in Galway this week proved more memorable for what happened outside the confines of the Ardilaun Hotel than inside, concluding with An Taoiseach Brian Cowen becoming an international figure of ridicule.
Following the 9am RTE Radio 1 interview on Tuesday morning during which Mr Cowen spoke in a rough-sounding voice and appeared to struggle with his answers, the Taoiseach was accused by listeners far and wide of being drunk and incapable.
The incident drew the attention of international media bodies with BBC and the Wall Street Journal carrying reports on their websites within moments of the interview. The debate that flared up on the matter and that continues to run ever since is dividing loyalties within the Fianna Fáil party and has left opposition party members and anti-Government pundits baying for the Taoiseach’s blood and demanding a snap election.
Mayo Fianna Fail TDs Dep Dara Calleary and Dep Beverley Flynn were unavailable for comment on the matter, with party members apparently gone to ground waiting for the controversy to blow over.
Meanwhile, the public apology issued by Mr Cowen on Wednesday night has been greeted as a positive step towards limiting political damage from the controversy.