Friday, May 25, 2007

Michael McDowell - No Thanks

This is a straight lift from today's (sat) Irish Examiner. Not enough people buy de paper.

THE hard man of Irish politics held it together just long enough to make it back to his Mercedes, then the magnitude of the previous six minutes broke over him and his eyes filled with tears. A career born in bombast had collapsed in personal agony.

It was the final twist of the rollercoaster election campaign, and the deep irony could not be ignored that after twice going to the brink of exiting government in disgust at the Taoiseach’s evasions over the payments saga, the voters had finally tipped the Tánaiste into history while at the same moment rewarding Bertie Ahern with a stunning landslide.
Mr McDowell arrived at the RDS count downcast but dignified. As the media swirled around him — surely the final time they would orbit this dark sun of political divisiveness and dynamism in such numbers — he could only progress just inside the main doors before being immobilised by the sheer weight of attention surrounding him.

There, just yards from where the ballot papers had flowed onto the tables to be tallied — damning him as they did so — the Tánaiste delivered the totemic moment in an already extraordinary day of political theatre.

His voice at times breaking with the momentum of the occasion, Mr McDowell spoke of his love for Ireland, responsibility for his own destiny and his seemingly snap decision to leave public life for good.

He ignored the Labour supporters barracking him with joyous chants of “Cheerio! Cheerio! Cheerio!” as he turned to leave, almost overcome by the body blow delivered by his own electorate.

But for an ideological street fighter who delivered so many bruisings down the years, he showed he could take them too.

As supporters moved in to try and comfort him after his shock announcement, the Tánaiste first came close to tears, within seconds he was in the relative privacy of his government car and could no longer deny his true feelings as the reality of personal defeat and party near-annihilation amid government triumph washed over him.

Mr McDowell had finally been laid low by Green avenger John Gormley who blew him out of office on the fifth count for the bitterly fought seat of Dublin South East.

Not content with delivering a happy slapping to Mr McDowell in the street in Ranelagh, the Green TD had now given the Tánaiste severe stress at the RDS.

It had been obvious calamity was in the air for several hours.

You knew Mr McDowell was twisting in the wind when he got more transfers from the eliminated Sinn Féin candidate than the poll-topping Fianna Fáil one.

The voters of Dublin South East had the final say on this most combative and commanding of Dáil giants : They said: “Michael McDowell — No Thanks."

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