14:00 ... Irish prime minister Brian Cowen - allegedly "the most unpopular Taoiseach since the foundation of the Republic" but also "among the top 10 world leaders" according to Newsweek magazine - was spotted smoking in a no smoking area in Croke Park on Sunday.
Our man in Ireland reports:
Croke Park is our national stadium. It hosted the All Ireland football semi-final last Sunday in front of 82,000 and the Taoisheach was there. The GAA made it a non-smoking stadium and if you want to smoke you have to get a smoker's wristband and then leave the ground. Outside there are two designated smoking areas. Our great leader however, was inside the ground in a public area when he was spotted by a smoker.
Apparently the report has provoked a "war" on RTE Radio 1, Ireland's favourite radio station. Click HERE to listen live.
14:15 ... PM's office says the Taoisheach made a mistake and put out his cigarette when asked to.
14:45 ... Croke Park official confirms that Cowen was smoking in no-smoking area but says it was "legal"!!
14:50 ... John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Eireann, tells RTE that this incident highlights the need for smoking areas in stadiums such as Croke Park.
The Irish Independent reports: Cowen smoked out by fan after lighting up at Croker.
John Mallon of Forest Éireann writes:
So, Brian Cowen lit a cigarette in Croke Park and it's front page news? Anyone would think that we had very little to worry about in Ireland these days. Indeed, if I were Brian, my next move would be to light a fag in a public bar on Budget Day. He could halve the old age pension, double the VAT and raise income tax to 82% and the lead story next morning would be "Smoker spotted in boozer".
Full post HERE. Comments welcome.