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9 interesting quotes from Brian Cowen's first interview in over two years

The former taoiseach’s first interview in over two years, conducted with TG4 and airing next week, reveals plenty about him.

Máirtín Tom Sheainin with Brian Cowen
Máirtín Tom Sheainin with Brian Cowen
Image: TG4 Press Office

FORMER TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has given his first full interview since he left office in February 2011 offering plenty of interesting and revealing anecdotes.

The interview with Máirtín Tom Sheainin on TG4′s Comhrá programme will be broadcast next Thursday, 5 September but we can reveal parts of the interview this week.

Cowen has spoken of how his government did not believe the warnings about the financial collapse and of the personal attacks on him during his time in office.

We’ve combed the transcript of the interview to bring you a few other interesting things he had to say:

1. On working with the family butchers and slaughtering animals:

“I did, yes [slaughter animals]. Well, I helped the butcher to do it. He was more skillful at it than me!

“In one respect, it’s strange really because I never had a problem with animal blood, but I never had any desire to study medicine or anything. I wouldn’t be very good at dealing with human blood.”

2. On when he first started drinking:

“Maybe it was around the time I was playing football and we won the county minor title.That was probably the first time.”

3. On working in the family’s funeral home:

“I remember one time when I was very young, I must have been about 12. There was a funeral in the hospital. It was very quiet and the rosary was being said outside the room while we were placing the corpse in the coffin. That was possibly the first time I had helped my father to do that and I happened to know the person.

“But when we were putting the corpse in the coffin, I lost grip of his shoulder and his head bumped against the corner of the coffin. In that situation, your reaction tends to be… you thought you’d killed him, even though he was already dead!”

4. On giving up GAA to go into politics:

“I really enjoyed it, but then I went into politics and I gave it up around the age of 25 or 26. And that’s a pity now that I look back on it, but I wasn’t able to go to the training sessions.

“I wasn’t as big as I am now! I was a half-forward at the time and able to run all day!”

5. On entering and leaving the Dáil:

“It was a very proud day because I guess I was thinking about my father and my family and I also thought about them the day I eventually left the Dáil.

“So those events are very clear in my memory: on my first day and on my last day, I thought about them. But you know, I was there for 27 years and I ended up having responsibilities I didn’t expect.

6. On becoming Taoiseach:

I wasn’t expecting it. What happened was that Bertie decided to step down and nobody else was seeking the position. So, some colleagues approached me and asked me if I’d like to go for the job and I said: “Fair enough, I’ll go for it”.

7. On what he might have done wrong:

Perhaps our plans for the country were too ambitious. Maybe we were trying to do more than we should and we weren’t making plans for a worst-case scenario.

8. On taking responsibility:

“I would like to say – because it’s important to do so, and I’ve said this before – I have a serious duty to accept my responsibility for what happened and I’m doing that.”

9. On wanting the current government to do well:

It’s important that this new government be successful – and that goes for any Irish government in the future – so that this burden on the State can be eased as quickly as possible.
The Comhrá programme featuring Brian Cowen will air on Thursday, 5 September on TG4 at 7.30pm

Brian Cowen: Things were said and written about me that went too far

More: Brian Cowen’s first interview in over two years labelled ‘cocky and arrogant’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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