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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 16 November, 2019
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“It’s well known that the Taoiseach suffers from congestion sometimes”

Fianna Fáil ministers rally around the ‘hoarse’ and ‘congested’ Taoiseach after his controversial Morning Ireland interview.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

FIANNA FÁIL MEMBERS of the cabinet have rallied around Taoiseach Brian Cowen, dismissing criticisms that the party leader sounded drunk or hungover during a radio interview this morning.

Cowen spoke to RTÉ Morning Ireland’s Cathal Mac Coille in an interview during which the Taoiseach’s voice sounded deeper than unusual – a sign many took to mean that the premier was a little the worse for wear – and mistakenly referred to the Croke Park agreement as the Good Friday agreement.

Speaking to Newstalk’s Lunchtime show this afternoon, justice minister Dermot Ahern put the Taoiseach’s deep tones down to congestion problems.

“It’s well known that the Taoiseach suffers from congestion sometimes,” he told Damien Kiberd. Referring to the Good Friday agreement, he said, “was only a slip of the tongue. I think this is grossly unfair and grossly exaggerated.

“As a human being I think he deserves a little bit more respect than that… it was just a good night, a night to let our hair down.”

Ahern admitted that he didn’t know what time people had gone to bed at, however.

Earlier, foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin had merely said the Taoiseach had merely sounded “hoarse” during his interview, and that the substance of the Taoiseach’s comments were entirely valid, while defending his right to socialise at the event.

He had echoed the comments of Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, who had also insisted that the Taoiseach had performed perfectly capably during the morning, aired on the country’s most listened-to radio show. The interview has since been picked up by media around the world.

Speaking on RTÉ radio following Cowen’s interview, Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan said there were “now concerns over the leadership of the country… there is a feeling this morning that this cannot continue. The game is up.”

Noonan’s Fine Gael colleague, communications spokesman Simon Coveney, had tweeted that Cowen sounded “half way between drunk and hungover and totally disinterested”.

Labour’s Roisin Shorthall said the interview was “one of the most inept and unconvincing ever given by a Taoiseach in the history of the State.”

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Gavan Reilly

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