I had an interesting conversation with students in my Project Management class today. I asked them at the start of class how they, as Project Managers, would deal with a team member who was smelling of alcohol during work. The question provoked several different reactions from "sack the person" to "they have a problem". We also discussed the effects of alcohol on a person's ability to do their job.
By way of introduction I showed the students my class photo from 1977 in which I am standing beside Brian Cowan, who was in the news today for all the wrong reasons. You can now see where I was coming from by mentioning this in class. Can you do your job and drink at the same time? What if a project is having problems staying within budget and being on-time due to a team member's drinking problem. I think the consensus was that even though it would be a difficult issue to approach - something would have to be done.
Brian Cowan was slaughtered in the media today. I heard his interview on RTE radio this morning. All I can say is that if Cowan heard this interview, he would agree with most of the nation that he sounded as if he was suffering from the effects of a late night. Not good. I have been out with Brian Cowan (plus about 10 other CCR past pupils) and have seen first hand his wit, humour, banter, and good company. He had very little to drink (I'd say two pints) - it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had.
I have always voted Fianna Fail - and I expect to do so again in the next election (as long as Mary Hanafin stands). I expect you would call me one of their "core voters". I have been a supporter of Brian Cowan for a long time, not just because we were in the same school, but because I have always thought that he was a very capable person, and that he was as they say - a "safe pair of hands". This opinion of him has not changed, even though he was clearly not at his best this morning.
Can I say this - "He/she who is without sin, cast the first stone". You know what I mean.
Be honest - have you ever turned up for work after a long night? Have you ever had a few jars in the evening, and were perhaps not at your best the next morning? If you are expecting perfection from Brian Cowan, you are expecting too much. Today there will be dozens of arrests nationwide of people who will sit behind the wheel of a car drunk. There will even be many people who will turn up for work drunk. There will be many people who did not hear Brian Cowan on the radio because there were sleeping off a hangover at the time (8.50am).
Now this does not forgive Brian Cowan, but let's get some perspective here. If you don't drink, or have never been hungover at work - well you have a right to be critical. If you have, well.... Glass houses come to mind.
BUT - I'm not happy. I now wish to announce that I am joining the ranks of people who want a General Election. I know that Fianna Fail will lose - perhaps badly. There is an appetite for revenge in the electorate - people can't wait to not vote for Fianna Fáil. Our Government is not stable, and is tethering on collapse. A new mandate, for whoever wins the election, is needed. But, will anything change? I can't wait to hear Eamonn Gilmore stand up in the Dáil and announce bed closures in hospitals, announce that social welfare is costing too much, that teachers should be glad of their jobs, work more, and earn less - all due to budgetary contraints. The shoe will be on the other foot. Right now, the only thing that Labour and Fine Gael have going for them is that they are not Fianna Fail.
Of this I am certain - had Fianna Fail lost the last election in 2007, many people would now be calling on Brian Cowan to "save the country". Fate has dealt him a bad hand, which he has not played very well.
Brian - you have been Taoiseach for two years, the pinnacle of politics in Ireland. But it is time to step aside - you have done your bit.
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