Belfast Telegraph

I’m happy to raise a glass to Brian

By Robert McNeil

The picture painted of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen ruling Ireland from a bar stool is an endearing one.

I say that as a newly teetotal citizen myself. Generally speaking, I don’t trust teetotallers or people with beards, which makes looking in the mirror even grimmer than it need be already.

By and large, I trust drunkards. As with the zombies featured in an emotionally wrought essay elsewhere on this page, their desperation to escape grim reality is admirable. Not that Brian was necessarily a drunkard per se. But he seemed fond of a pint certainly and, in a new book (Fianna Fail: The End of the Party, by Bruce Arnold and Jason O’Toole), it’s claimed that friends would bring him beer to help him think more clearly.

All he had to say was, “I’m a bit lost here with this economy malarkey”, and someone would bring him a jar of foaming ale.

It also seems clear he didn’t drink during the day and, whatever a yardarm is, he restrained himself until the sun was well over it. I’m not saying this is necessarily a recipe for good government. Churchill started imbibing at breakfast. But what the hey. It’s not every drinker who could get the EU to carry them home at the end of the night.

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