Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has claimed his reputation for being a heavy drinker stemmed from a tweet by Simon Coveney during the infamous “Garglegate” interview on top RTE radio talkshow Morning Ireland.
Cowen gave the early morning interview following a Fianna Fail party think-in. Fine Gael’s Coveney, who is now housing minister, tweeted that Cowen was “somewhere between drunk and hungover” on the program.
Cowen has dismissed the claim he was drunk and said Coveney was availing of a “political opportunity.”
But Cowen, 56, has also admitted he should have quit drinking while he was taoiseach to stop it becoming an issue.
He said that within 15 minutes of Coveney’s tweet he was facing cameras and explaining, “Here, guys, I’m not jarred, you know.”
He adds in a book to be released next week, “There would have been no controversy about it if Mr. Coveney hadn’t issued a tweet.”
Cowen makes a number of confessions in the book, Hell at the Gates by journalists John Lee and Daniel McConnell, about his time in the Dail during the 2010 bailout and the aftermath which led to his government’s electoral downfall in 2011.
Cowen, dealing with his socializing, has said he should have “killed” the perception he was a heavy drinker, but revealed he “always sort of had this antipathy to political correctness.”
He said, “If there are people putting a rumor about it, you are better off killing it.”
When he was a minister, he made the point of never touching the drinks cabinet in an office or department, and never offered a drink to anyone in his office. His predecessor Bertie Ahern used to have a drink and it was never an issue.
Cowen also explains in the book that he regrets not doing a state of the nation address during the financial crisis of 2011.
“Looking back, it would have been better if I had done one. Crisis management means being out ahead of the issue and trying to put a context on it so people can understand what is happening,” Cowen said.
“I didn’t succeed in that. Sometimes you can be hard on yourself but I didn’t succeed on that front.”