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Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin and Prime Minister Brian Cowen

New York Irish sad over Irish mess

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin and Prime Minister Brian Cowen

"It's a little bit embarrassing,” Galway man Alan Keane told the Irish Voice from his Midtown West apartment in New York.

As another historic week in Ireland’s current political chapter drew to a close on Saturday, Keane was surprised to read about Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen’s resignation as leader of the Fianna Fail party, when he clicked onto The New York Times website.

Despite surviving a motion of confidence last Tuesday, the Fianna Fail led government’s house of cards subsequently began to fall around Cowen, amid repeated calls for him to resign as taoiseach.

Once again, the world was watching Ireland last week, as five senior ministers resigned from the cabinet in the space of 24-hours.

Keane, who works as a manager with an ad agency in New York, said he was shocked by Cowen’s resignation.

“I was really surprised he stepped down as the leader of Fianna Fail, we knew something was going to happen, but he has been with the party for his entire career, he has been such a strong public figure,” said Keane, who added that it was a good idea for Cowen to reassess his stance.

“People will always look to blame one person, but he had a team behind him. You can understand why people feel let down. He was the face of Ireland and he hasn’t really represented himself well,” said Keane.

“He could have been a lot smarter, but he failed to eject optimism into the Irish public,” the Galway man added.

Betty Flynn, a bartender who lives in Maspeth, Queens, told the Irish Voice the entire situation “sounds very bad.” On her regular calls home to Ireland, she admits there is continued talk of the doom and gloom.

Originally from Hollywood, Co. Wicklow, Flynn admits it’s hard to know who will end up in power after the upcoming election.

“It’s very difficult to know who to vote in, but Cowen should have been gone a long time ago. Enda Kenny will probably be the best fit for taoiseach,” she said.

“People feel disappointed and let down by the way the country was run. I would love to see more normal people in power.”

Sitting at a bar in Astoria, originally from Donegal, Frank McKenny says Cowen should not be the scapegoat.

“It’s not really all his fault. It is just the way the country was run. For the last 10 or 15 years, people in Ireland were living beyond their means. It’s unfortunate for Cowen. Whoever was in power couldn’t have done any better,” he says.

McKenny, who lives in Woodside in Queens, thinks that Sinn Fein have a good chance in the approaching election, describing them as an “up and coming party.”

“It was a worldwide recession after all. Greece and Spain have suffered too. Ireland was flying high for the last 10 years, but maybe we flew too high!” he added.

Cork native Richard O’Sullivan says that last week’s resignations were an admission of guilt.

“They resigned because they obviously did something wrong, they wanted to leave with dignity. But they have left a big mess for the incoming government to clean up,” he said.

“I think people have the right to blame Fianna Fail, but no matter who is in power, they are all in cahoots.”

McKenny, who has been living in the U.S. for 11 years, says the Irish government’s handling of the financial crisis does little to entice him to ever return to his homeland.

“Especially now, I feel like there is nothing there for me in Ireland,” he lamented.

A sentiment shared by many Irish who have made New York their home.

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