- 09 Apr 01
The disgraceful spectacle at Shannon Airport last Friday was the final straw. It was a humiliation too far. How much more can this tiny little nation take?
The disgraceful spectacle at Shannon Airport last Friday was the final straw. It was a humiliation too far. How much more can this tiny little nation take? There he was, our Taoiseach, standing in plain view of the world’s press as he waited to greet the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. And what happens on this potentially historic occasion? Albert stays sober, that’s what.
This isn’t the first time that Mr. Reynolds has let us down in public. Throughout his tenure as Taoiseach, the man has dragged the name of Ireland through the diplomatic mud with his stubborn refusal to share a carafe or eight with the rest of the world’s top statesmen and stateswomen. The guy is a party pooper, a Ballygowan junkie clearly unfit for the cut and thirst of high office. What sort of message does this send to our peers in the league of nations? A teetotal leader can mean only one thing. A teetotalitarian state.
It could be argued, of course, that we were aware of Albert’s drink problem when we elected him. This is no excuse. Deep down, most of us believed that a few years of hanging around with other Presidents and Prime Ministers, most of whom rarely draw a sober breath, would give him a taste for the grape and the grain. We hoped that a couple of nights in the company of Bertie “The Gallon Of Bass” Ahern and Brian “No Nickname But He Likes A Drink” Cowen would introduce him to the hooch habit. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
Mr. Reynolds, we are told, is fond of a glass of lemonade. This is a truly shaming admission. Lemonade is not a drink. It’s a fluid that kids use to wash the taste of crisps out of their mouths. There are tastier concoctions bubbling away in test tubes in every chemistry lab in the country. To own up to enjoying such a substance is to announce to all and sundry that you either are the bravest and most daring man in the Western World or that you have the palate of a dung beetle.
Sobriety leaves no room for excuses. As we are all only too well aware, for instance, our Taoiseach is a black stranger to the rudiments of sentence making and word use. He has the oratory skills of a dead fish. Now, were he a drinking man, we could at least put all of this down to a wet brain or to the side effects of a hangover the size of Ben Bulben.
Before you can say delirium tremens (which anyone suffering from it can’t), he would be hailed as a lovable rogue who, God help him, is a martyr to the drink. People would be sympathetic. They’d offer to help out, maybe finish the odd phrase for him or pretend that they knew what he meant when he proposed “dehumanising” the health service.
Poor old Boris Yeltsin did his best to win Albert over to the joy of Becks (and other alcoholic beverages). By downing a horse trough of vodka on his flight from the States last week, he was trying to demonstrate how handy it can be sometimes to be pickled to the toe-jam in your socks.
The fact that Boris was enjoying the sleep of the just and the just-completely-out-of-it meant that he didn’t have to bother his arse trying to make small talk with Willie O’Dea or pretend that he was really digging the sound of The Irish Army Band. Most importantly, it meant that he didn’t have to spend the afternoon in the company of a devotee of the bizarre total abstinence cult, a man who believes that there is a place for orange juice outside of the cocktail cabinet. And to think that there were actually some people who thought that Boris had gotten loaded by accident.
It is now up to each and every citizen to do what they can to lead the Taoiseach away from the path of national sabotage. If you meet Mr. Reynolds at a reception or public function, spike his drink. Relieve the tedium of his lemonade with a wee nip of Scotch. Transform his cup of tea into a cup of tequila. Demand that Boris Yeltsin be made Tanaiste.
Let’s get Albert locked for Ireland.
• Liam Fay
(Niall Stokes is on holidays)