Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Brian Cowen first of the CCR class of 1977 to retire.

I am jealous of my Cistercian College Roscrea former classmate Brian Cowen (CCR 1972-1977) who has announced that he is retiring from politics and will not contest the next election. 

Photo copied from the
Views from the Lifeboat Blog.
Brian Cowen is just 51 years young. I, and our classmates, wish him well in his retirement and that he can spend some time on the golf course where he can talk about anything he wants, and to whoever he wants, without being pilloried by all and sundry. In retiring 14 years ahead of the rest of us, and I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, he is a bollix - so jealous! I do hope that he can come to some of the re-unions that the CCR Past Pupils Union holds on regular occasions. We have questions to ask him.

A glittering political career that went sour almost the moment after he acceded to the highest position in the land has ended in disaster and ignominy. He will be remembered as a poor Taoiseach - his achievements will pale into insignificance alongside the fact that it was on his watch that the economy spiralled out of control and that he could do nothing to stop it. I'm sure he is grateful now for the existence of Charlie Haughey, who surely is safe in the position of Worst Taoiseach Ever.

It is a pity to see someone who has dedicated his life to politics make this decision to retire - but it is the right decision. The new Fianna Fáil Party that will certainly emerge after the next election needs him like a hole-in-the-head. While they could certainly have done with him retaining his seat, he would have been too much "baggage" - it's time to move on. And Cowen knows this. He is a smart guy, though not the smartest in our class which yielded six medical doctors and two PhDs! 

There is also the unwritten rule that a former Taoiseach has had his day, and doesn't interrupt the new kids on the block (ironically, Micheál Martin is the same age as us - 51). It's a lonely place if you get to the top of an organization, but then return to the bottom. Like it or not - you are a "has-been", and nobody wants to know you or hear from you. I'm sure that secretly Micheál Martin will be glad that he is gone.

Me and Brian Cowen, May 1977.
But I want to remember the Brian Cowen from my school days. He was a smart and popular boy - well liked by both teachers and pupils. He was a great sport and excelled at football, hurling, and especially rugby. In sixth year we were prefects on adjoining tables in the refectory, and we shared a newspaper many times and talked mostly about football. He once sent me the wrong way with a clever "shimmy" to one side during a football match in a one-on-one situation when I was playing in goal, and he scored an easy tap-in - somehow this memory has stayed in a memory cell somewhere in my head. He was an excellent debater right throughout our five years in CCR. My memories of that time are fond ones.

I don't think we have seen the last of Brian Cowen - an autobiography is surely the next step. Like him or hate him, I'm sure that we will all be fascinated in a few years time when he tells his own story - I hope it is a "warts and all" story. I would advise that he sees to his health - he looked exhausted on TV last night. His father (Ber) died a week short of his 52nd birthday.

While many are glad to see the back of him, I'd like to wish him well in retirement.

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