Cowen Pictures — Michael Kennedy Replies

You might recall hearing Michael Kennedy TD on the radio last week demanding the resignation of RTÉ’s director general for showing the Cowen pictures on the main evening news.

Here’s an exchange of emails between us and Mr Kennedy.

Unfortunately, although he responded quickly to our first email, he seems to have gone quiet after receiving our reply.  He’s having trouble with that difficult second email.



Dear Mr Kennedy

We operate one of the most widely-read current-affairs web sites in Ireland, and we will shortly be running an article ridiculing your pomposity in calling for Cathal Goan’s resignation.  The article will suggest that you are a deeply authoritarian individual, unfit to hold public office in a modern democracy.

It only seems fair to offer you the opportunity to comment on this article before its publication, which will probably be in the coming week.


Michael Kennedy:

Thank you for your communication and I set out below my views and comments on the matter:

1.    I accept satire’ in all its forms once it is based in a context of  comedy and a separate “Spitting Image” type tv show. I enjoy Nob Nation, Scrap Saturday etc

2.    I believe in the right of free speech.

3.    My objection to the RTE News broadcast is based on my belief that the 9pm News is not a comedy or entertainment show but a ‘serious’ issues broadcast that international TV and Media will ‘pick up’ on.

4.    The fact that minutes after the 9pm News, media in the USA, Australia and the UK had the 2 portraits on their websites proves my point

5.    RTE could have s hown the 2 portraits on any of their ‘comedy’ style shows such as Podge and Rodge. I would have no difficulty in accepting such.

6.    In my opinion, the particular broadcast denigrated and belittled the Office and position of An Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of our country. I hold the view that the Office of An Taoiseach / President / Government Minister are bigger than the individuals who hold the position.

7.    The manner in which the item was broadcast was a gross insult to the Office of An Taoiseach and I would hold the same view if Enda Kenny or Eamon Gilmore held Ministerial positions.

8.    The fact that RTE immediately withdrew any further broadcasts before any apology was sought proves they believed it was an inappropriate broadcast.

9.    Neither I nor anybody in Fianna Fáil requested the Gardaí to get

10.   The Galleries in question have confirmed they sought the help of the Gardaí in relation to the breach of security.

11.   The lack of security at these Galleries raises questions –  if a
valuable painting was stolen in such a casual act, would there not be
public uproar?

12.   The fact that anybody can casually walk in with a picture under one’s arm, pass the door security, walk along the corridors and hang a painting in some exhibition room without any of the Gallery staff witnessing the event is worrying. What if a terrorist planted a bomb or as I have said above, stole a painting?

13.   I regard myself as having a sense of humour and see politicians and others in public life as ‘fair game’ but insulting the Office of An
Taoiseach is ‘not on’.

14.   If RTE felt the need to include the Sunday Tribune ‘story’ in a news item, they could have reported that 2 Galleries had called in the Gardaí­ to investigate a breach of security without resorting to ‘gutter style’ attack on the office and position of An Taoiseach.

15.   The international reputation of Ireland can do without our Prime
Minister being ridiculed on our national television station.
I conclude by saying I felt outraged by the RTE broadcast and I hope I have explained my position.

Michael Kennedy TD

P.S.1. Kindly advise your address for my records.
P.S.2. If this ‘portrait’ was of a woman, would you agree there would be public outrage.
P.S.3. Do the feelings of Mrs. Cowen and her two daughters matter in this ‘toilet humour’? What of Brian Cowen’s ageing and sick mother?

Michael Hennerty
<michaelhennerty@>                                                 To
25/03/2009 11:18


Your interview on the Pat Kenny  show
Congratulations on your interview with Pat Kenny this morning.  It is
high time that respect for “the Taoiseach and ministers” should become compulsory in Ireland.  I look forward to your introduction of Sharia Law and the launch of the Taliban Branch of Fianna Fail in the near future.  Keep up the good work.



Dear Mr Kennedy

Our web address is  You will not like it.  You will find it contains quite a lot of content critical of the recent actions by an Garda Síochána and your own party.

If I may take a few of your points, according to your own numbering system.

Point 3.  I am not clear on how a politician is qualified to tell a broadcaster what is a serious news issue and what is not.  Is it your view that government has the final say on what items the news should be permitted to report?

Points 6, 7 and 13.  There seems to be no reference to the position of Taoiseach in the paintings. There is a likeness of Mr Cowen, which does not seem to be a caricature of him, but a fair likeness.  Can you clarify how the office, as opposed to the person, of the Taoiseach was ridiculed?

Point 9.  If Fianna Fáil was not involved, one must speculate as to the identity of the “powers that be” to whom the Garda referred.

Points 11 1and 12.  The artist, as far as I am aware, did neither of the things you mention: steal a painting or plant a bomb.  To the best of my knowledge, he placed a painting in a gallery which is not an unusual thing for an artist to do.

We have sought opinion from three lawyers on this, and all agree that the only possible offence committed by Mr Casby might be one of trespass.  However, a leading legal professional and academic, Eoin O’Dell, is of the opinion that the degree of trespass in question is trivial and that a conviction would in any case be struck down by the Supreme Court as an unconstitutional interference in freedom of expression.

Point 15.  A well-known PR professional, Terry Prone, has stated publicly that the international exposure was generated by the government press secretary’s inept handling of the matter and by the Garda’s disproportionate response to pressure from the powers that be, whoever they might be.

On your supplementary comments, since the picture is not of a woman, but of Mr Cowen, I have no way of speculating on what the reaction might be, nor does it seem relevant to the issue at hand. However, I have seen many unflattering caricatures of the Minister for Health which do not seem to have elicited the same response from an Garda Síochána or from Fianna Fáil for that matter.

Mr Cowen’s family are always going to feel the sting whenever he is lampooned, criticised or satirised.  That is the unfortunate reality of life for anyone who places himself in the public eye.

I am not clear what significance the email you attached from Michael Hennerty has.




I’m gutted.  It turns out that Michael wasn’t replying to me directly at all, but simply sending me the same cut-and-paste reply he sends to everyone emailing him about this subject.

Why don’t you try it yourself and see if he sends you the same answer?  His email address is

Isn’t it a pity he didn’t get a grown-up to help him with the confused logic before he sent out all these identical replies?

I remind you, people: this is a member of the party that leads our country at a time of unprecedented crisis.


What the hell, I thought.  Why not send him another email?  Here it is.

Dear Mr Kennedy,

As we did not receive a reply to our last email, we have taken the liberty of publishing our correspondence with you in full without, unfortunately, your response.

If you wish to respond to our points, you might like to do so at this point.

I would also want to clarify one issue, if I may.  Your response to this query seems to be identical in every way to the responses you have sent to a number of other correspondents.  Could you please confirm that you are sending pre-written statements to people who write to you?

Could you also please clarify why you are requesting details of people’s home addresses?  Is this an attempt to intimidate your correspondents?


All Bock posts on this subject:

Cowen Nude



State of the Nation



34 thoughts on “Cowen Pictures — Michael Kennedy Replies

  1. Listened to an interview on Matt Cooper’s show the other day and twas a party croney of Cowens whose best argument was that Mrs.Cowen has to bear these horrendous images.
    Does she not put up with said same every night?
    Down with artists.

  2. If every monkey-faced depiction of Dubya had met with the same disproportionate reaction the US never would have had the resources to invade Iraq or Afghanistan. If Silvio Berlusconi took equal affront at every piece of exposure that shows him to be a prize dick (and no lampoonery needed), then maybe Italy would have less corruption in civil life. Oh if only the rest of the world was as enlightened as we are. Along with Mary O’Rourke, I feel some sympathy for BC’s family, but unfortunately for them, he is the figurehead in the driving seat of our teetering democracy. Shit will be flung. It goes with the job in these blessed times of grand exposure. Reaction to lampoonery ought to be well down the list of his lackeys’ concerns, but they’ve made a hash of it. Instead of him laughing it off, offering to buy the fucking things and improving his public profile in the process, he’s been dragged deeper into the shit by the very clodhoppers who are suppose to be working for him. Come to think of it, I do feel sorry for him. What chance has he got when he’s surrounded by such parish pump naivete and glad-handing gobshites in a world where the media never sleeps? Or am I the clown who’s totally innocent? Either way, mmassive Ffail.

  3. Dear Bock,

    Well said. Thank you.

    I was foolish enough to think that Mr Kennedy was a politician from FF who was prepared to put his view forward. I treated he 15+ points seriously, so seriously that I responded to each in turn, as best I could.

    Instead I now think this is a man who does not realise the consequences of educating the masses. If you give people an education, they will develop the ability to think outside the box provided by the powers that be.

    However, the man behaves as if his audience was thick. Any old re-cycled rubbish that looks on the page as if it might pass for thought…

    I fell like travelling to his house, knocking on his door and asking him to get real. But, he is drawing a salary from the taxes I pay. He is taking money under false pretences, I think.

    He has every chance to read your view, other views, and my view. He has ample opportunity to show that I misinterpret his behaviour.

    He even has time for a come to Damascus experience. So he has little excuse. It’s up to him to show that he values democratic ways.

    If he cuts off, and does not maintain the dialogue, I suggest he is half a man, and a thundering disgrace to his wife and children. He will let their reputation be sullied by association with him.

    I call on him to confront these suspicions head on and come back with something that shows he’s capable of thinking. I assume he got education. The challenge for him is to show he didn’t completely waste it.

  4. I’ve read this email-exchange with some kind of disbelief. You made that Kennedy reply up, didn’t you? It was some sort of comedy, wasn’t it? To make a point? I’m genuinely confused. No, really, are there actually people like that still alive?
    Naah, you’re pulling a leg. I’m not falling for it.
    Or don’t you, do I?
    Please enlighten me. I mean it.

  5. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary provides the following definition.

    “Satire: the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices”

    Why would Kennedy assume that the satire should be restricted to the perspective of comedy and entertainment?

    Does this reveal an appalling lack of understanding or does it lay bare Fianna Fail’s attitude to freedom of expression. ‘Satire’, what ever that is, should only be shown in a comedic context so that the (thick as a plank) citizen will realise it is not to be taken seriously.

    Well here’s the thing Michael, satire is meant to be taken seriously. The image or language is the vehicle not the message.

    Can we have a Spitting Image type show on RTE, with a guarantee that Fianna Fail will not undermine editorial integrity?

    The artist has shown that the Taoiseach has no cloths, Fianna Fail have shown that they have no sense of humour (unless they control the humour), John Waters has shown yet again that he is an inflated windbag, and Michael Kennedy has shown that that he just doesn’t understand satire, even if he accepts ‘satire’.

    And, yes Michael, Brian Cowen was ridiculed. Get over it.

  6. “I believe in the right of free speech.”


    Why would an elected representative of a western democracy feel the need utter this credo?

  7. “My objection to the RTE News broadcast is based on my belief that the 9pm News is not a comedy or entertainment show but a ‘serious’ issues broadcast that international TV and Media will ‘pick up’ on.”

    That’s right Michael. The whole world is watching and they can see the naked decadence of Fianna Fail.

    They didn’t need to see the stripped Taoiseach. They just had a laugh, like most of your fellow Citizens.

  8. “I believe in the right to free speech”
    From F.F. is akin to a person who drinks two bottles of spirit’s a day saying “I am not an alcoholic “.
    Self denial, delusion, desperation? However not to worry. The latest poll show F.F. are back as the flavour of the month. The Party shall rise again. It is years to the next election and the gobshit voters will have forgotten all this by then.

  9. What a cock. It’s these shady characters in the FF party who concern me. These are guys who’ll rough up you if you piss off the main men. A party of thugs.

  10. Michael Kennedy TD defense of Brian is I fear an attempt to brown nose his way into a cabinet post.
    Another example of the shite that passes for politics here.

  11. “The fact that minutes after the 9pm News, media in the USA, Australia and the UK had the 2 portraits on their websites proves my point”

    Your what? Your point. Michael, what sort of Fianna Fail gobshite language is this?

    Just so that there is no misunderstanding here, and given that you don’t know the meaning of satire, I provide you (and your staff) with the Wiki definition of Gobshite.

    “One who engages in nonsensical chatter or unwanted conversation”

    I’m sure that your conversation is always welcome in Fianna Fail. However, when you address the Citizens that your party are robbing blind, I’d be obliged if you could refrain from using the gobshite language that works so well when telling the Director of RTE to make an apology to our Great Leader.

    By the way Michael, your geopolitical ignorance is showing. You might want to conceal your embarrassment. It is Berlin you should address when you fear “international TV and Media”

    Of course you are a better man than John Waters. You won’t be afraid to use the internet webby thingy.

  12. “RTE could have shown the 2 portraits on any of their ‘comedy’ style shows such as Podge and Rodge. I would have no difficulty in accepting such.”

    Michael, perhaps you should agree to defend your position on Podge & Rodge. After all that’s comedy, even if they do live in a toilet in Ballydung. Do you live any where near Ballydung? Is that where you get your votes?

    By the way, how much does it cost Fianna Fail to provide toilet humour through our (gracious and revered) Director of RTE.? Do you have to pay him extra?

    Oh, silly me, it’s available on the internet webby thingy. It’s €380,000. Is licking your shiny boots part of his contract.

    Funny that, I thought I paid a licence fee for a public broadcasting service. It appears I pay it for a Fianna Fail servility service.

    Oh well, Republic. Who could have known?

  13. Ha! I sent him an email on Thursday and got the exact same reply.

    I replied to his reply and got another reply asking me for my postal address because he wanted to “file” (his quotation marks, not mine) my correspondence.

    Or at least the poorly paid civil servant that is more that likely a family member and therefore exempt from the pension levy who’s job it is to send these canned responses did.

  14. Paul — The man is clearly a central-casting Fianna Fáil TD. What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?

    Robert — I took him seriously as well until I realised he was just another gobshite politician of the sort that has crashed our country into the ground. From now on, he’ll get a lot less respect than I showed him in the lead-up to this post.

    Absolute gobshite.

  15. This is what Cathal Goan said to the Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    “The principle of the licence fee is one RTE believes should be continued. The licence fee is not just handed over as a gift.”

    See the thing is Michael, I think he meant it. It’s not a gift. It’s a bribe. RTE has been bought and sold by Fianna Fail.

    Still, maybe €380,000 pays for enough mouthwash after Cathal Goan, has licked your stinking shining boots.

  16. “ In my opinion, the particular broadcast denigrated and belittled the Office and position of An Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of our country. I hold the view that the Office of An Taoiseach / President / Government Minister are bigger than the individuals who hold the position.”

    The only error on RTE’s part was that Cathal Goan took his gaze of the shiny boots of his master.

    Thanks for pointing out that the Tao Is Each is the First Minister of this Republic. I’m sure that “after 9pm the USA, Australia and the UK” they will factor that in. They’re a bit thick outside of our glorious Nation. You might consider providing your wisdom on the lecture circuit in the USA when you loose your seat at the next election.

    The satirist’s intention, well executed, was to ridicule your party and your leader. And rightly so.

    You deserve ridicule. You have bankrupted this Nation by your greed and arrogance.

    And if you don’t think you have you should do your sums again and then beg German auto workers for a very large loan. And I mean beg. Really Michael you would be better occupied shining up the begging bowl of Ireland rather that defending the bare faced ignorance of Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan.

  17. Apologies for using your space, Bock.

    I am outraged by this deliberate ignorance.

  18. Try to do it in one post instead of ten. That would help. Gather your thoughts and put them all down together in one post, like everyone else does.

  19. Bock, and all of you,

    I think we may all have got it wrong.

    Perhaps Michael Kennedy TD does not exist? What if he’s a made-up character sent out to play battle with the likes of us citizens on the internet, thereby distracting us from talking to real people?

    Is there any empirical evidence that Michael Kennedy TD has a brain? A heart? Imagination? Friends? A local pub? A wife and children? An ageing and sick mother? Dare I say it, a soul?

    From now on, I’ll treat him as a cipher ( ‘an obsolete name for Zero… a person or thing of no importance; nonentity; a defect in an organ resulting in the continuous sounding of a pipe…’)

    But if a person should emerge from under the dungheap (with apologies to dung beetles), he’ll be greeted as a prodigal son, for a short while.

  20. I’d be very careful not to overshine the begging bowl. The Germans might think we didn’t need the money.

    But why should the Germans bother. They are well aware that we have already stolen part of their tax base through our “competitive” corporate tax system.

    On second thoughts, maybe we should shine it really well and try and pawn it.

    Oops, we’ve already done that.

    Oil, gas, fish, minerals etc.

    Not redeemable, given away. Squandered like everything else.

  21. Mr Kennedy had one blinding insight in his reply:

    I hold the view that the Office of An Taoiseach / President / Government Minister are bigger than the individuals who hold the position.

    Precisely. The problem is that the people concerned need to grow into the office. They need to rise above personal/party concerns and discharge their responsibilities to the people.

    < laughter: gnashing of teeth: primal scream: insert your own />

  22. We have indeed sold the family silver for a mess of pottage. More to the point our Lords and masters , whom we put in place, did in order to facilitate the International and domestic Golden Circle. However we can sell our children into slavery as we have in the past. Our youth working virtually 24/7 in New York or Sydney at five different job’s each. In terror of being found by the authorities because they are “illegal” . The “vox PoP’s” are saying everyone is expecting to be screwed on April 7th. F.F. at the last poll are up 5%

  23. “I hold the view that the Office of An Taoiseach / President / Government Minister are bigger than the individuals who hold the position.”

    I’m not sure that’s possible in this case.


    “What if a terrorist planted a bomb or as I have said above, stole a painting?”

    Is he trying to tell us that Al-Qaeda might target Irish galleries? I think it’s far more likely that Cowen will have na Gardaí raid said galleries for paintings that might be construed as ridiculing the Gov’t.

    That one’s definitely iffy.

    “the 9pm News is not a comedy or entertainment show but a ‘serious’ issues broadcast”

    So they can only do ‘serious’ stories? Is that why they look like they’ve been injected with an overdose of botox when they’re reading the 9pm New- I mean, press releases from the Gov’t, the EU, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama? Come on! Even Reuters has an “Oddly Enough” section. Why can’t we?

  24. I don’t see why you are surprised that he sent you a standard reply. I’m surprised he would bother to answer you at all.

    You have no journalistic credentials whatsoever. You are, a guy (or guys as you said “we operate…”) with a website, nothing more nothing less.

    The M.O of this site (as far as I can tell) is to lift an already published story from a newspaper and attach what I assume you consider a biting editorial commentary. Generally it is just some sweeping bombastic statement about the government being crooked and developers ruining the economy.

    You might consider your blog uncompromising, but little if anything you publish would make it into a serious or respected online or print title. I can only assume that this is what guides your “howl at the moon” approach to practically everything you lift from another journalist for subject matter.

    Furthermore, if you are going to do this, and enter into a rather facile pursuit of a government minister, then I think you should reveal who you are. I mean how does he (or we) know that you are not just a cover for a rival political party?

  25. What credentials do you think I need? Will you issue them?

    What about that little blog you’re trying to publicise? I don’t see much transparency there.

    There’s more than a hint of resentment bubbling under your little outburst. You sound like somebody took your football.

  26. Bock
    More likely his soothers! Or maybe his lolly pop . “the Party, The Party you’ll burst the Party” You should apply to the Office of the Holy Inquisition for a permit to express your views. The rest of us are begrudges of no importance. Tow the Party line or risk a visit form the A.R.U.

  27. Bock
    On mature reflection and having re-read eejitmeeja rant again ,a thought struck me.

    “Furthermore, if you are going to do this, and enter into a rather facile pursuit of a government minister, then I think you should reveal who you are. I mean how does he (or we) know that you are not just a cover for a rival political party?”

    The implication of this statement being, in my humble opinion ,if you or any contributor is a member of any other so called Party how DARE you question a Government Minister?

    How DARE you or anyone else express a view other than through approved media? Which is subject to correct Government control as we have seen with RTE. Good old F.F. guaranteed to shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity.

    I realise that they are buying brown underwear for the local and E.U. elections but with friend’s like eejitmeeja who needs enemies?

  28. I infer from Eeejitmeja’s demeanour that he resents anyone else having opinions on the news. Clearly he thinks the media own the news and have exclusive rights to hold opinions, having gone to a journalism school for a year or two.

    There’s a delusion among some journalists that writing was invented in Rathmines.

  29. Well, regarding me trying to publicise a site, I left the site link blank, because I knew, as usual, you would deflect attention from the fact that you have no counter argument, and try score a few cheap points.

    You are not a credible current affairs journalist, columnist, or observer. You ignorance in matters economic and political can not be hidden by the fact that you have a few similarly deluded people prepared to parrot your howlings.

    I have no political affiliations, I like to think of all politics as local so I go with a candidate I feel will represent me best. Irrespective, I see no reason why a government minister should issue anything other than a standard reply to someone who has a website, regardless of how important they might think they are.

    And I feel if anyone ever took my football, I could tell you and you no doubt would blame some golden circle of bankers and developers, because that would play well with your fellow conspiracy theorists.

    You are entitled to have an opinion on everything bock, what you are not allowed to do is think that because you have an opinion, that it actually represents the unvarnished, total truth. It represents your truth I suppose, but why any person outside of your fawning coterie should spare time to placate or entertain you is beyond me.

    You would do well to remember how insignificant you really are.

  30. At last. An obsessive follower.

    (By the way, he isn’t a government minister. He’s just a backbencher. God, it’s depressing. I sincerely hope you’re not a real journalist.)

  31. @eejitmeeja – Never came across you before so I don’t think you can call me insignificant yet. You hardly know me and I hardly know you!

    And somehow I get the feeling that you were an only child. Maybe the fatty who no one would pick to be on their team. Or the slowest, or the most ungainly etc. etc. Always the last picked!

    And again, I hardly know you! But I can cast these aspersions because you seem to know me and the others who comment here and cast aspersions yourself!

    First impressions coupled with ignorance is wondeful indeed. Just in case you don’t realise it I’m being sarcastic.

    The point is you haven’t a clue.

    You mention that you would vote for someone that you think represents you the most? So I presume that you are ok with the cancellation of the cervical cancer vaccine programme which ensures that scores will die unnecessarily?, you are pleased that you will (possibly) be lumped with a 5% pension levy, you are pleased that from a massive exchequer surplus from recent years has been turned into a potential €16Bn borrowing? etc. etc.

    Like I said already I hardly know you but reading your last post I like to think I do. You are one of these clueless idiots who don’t know who to vote for or just don’t want to rock the boat so you just do quietly as you are told.

    And if you believe the shit that we all have to deal with and suffer through is just through circumstance and the ‘economic crisis’ then you are truly on another planet altogether. We are all being royally raped by a government that only brought one tub of vaseline to the party that begain a decade ago.

    And guess what? That tub of vaseline is full of sand.


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