Friday, November 25, 2005

George Best versus Irish Ferries

A couple of months ago we posted about labour disputes on ferry companies in Ireland and France; while the French dispute had flared up more spectacularly at that time, we figured that the Irish dispute was ultimately more troublesome for the government because of its interaction with national wage agreements.

And so today, not yet going as far as the Corsican sailors (who "hijacked" their ship), Irish sailors have barricaded themselves in the bridges of two Irish Ferries ships at Holyhead and Pembroke. Things got further complicated for the Artful Dodger, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, when George Best died -- because he has now has the challenge of having to sound distinct notes of concern about the two issues. It wouldn't look good to be crying into his vintage Manchester United jersey (even though he was a Hull fan when Best played), while also coming across as disengaged from a looming industrial relations disaster.

It doesn't help that Bertie stands accused of a version of the US State Department's disastrous interaction with Saddam Hussein in 1990: "we have no opinion on your border dispute with Kuwait:"

[RTE]: Bertie Ahern, speaking during a visit to Budapest, also defended his remarks earlier in the week when he said the Government was powerless to intervene in the dispute. Some had claimed the remarks had given Irish Ferries the green light to take the action they did.

Anyway, Bertie decided to come out swinging on the latest developments -- although still unclear what he'll actually do:

the Taoiseach launched a strong attack on the tactics of Irish Ferries management, describing them as anathema to everything he has worked for for more than 20 years.

So how about George Best? Bertie does indeed some more devastated about that, as signalled by the presence of a statement about his death -- and not the ferry dispite -- on his website:

I am saddened to learn of the death of George Best. George was one of my great sporting heroes. Not only is he one of the finest footballers this island has ever produced but he is also one of the best players the world has ever seen. In the days ahead people will struggle with words to try to describe his talent. In this regard George should be remembered as the very best at what he did. He was quite simply a football genius.

As a teenager, I remember being enthralled by George's sensational performance in the 1968 European Cup final which propelled United to a famous victory. Throughout a long and colourful career, George gave great pleasure to millions of football supporters across the globe. He was a man of unmatched football skills and great personal charisma. He fought a long difficult battle with alcoholism and I am sorry to hear today that he has finally succumbed to illness. I wish to extend my sympathy to George's family, friends and legions of fans, he will be well remembered and sadly missed.

In death, as on the football field, George comes out ahead.

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