The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature

Allan 12:36 am


(No taoisigh were harmed in the making of this image. You may experience some nausea yourself though, for which I apologise, but this is about principle, freedom of speech, and news staying news.)

UPDATE: We’re going to have an exhibition!

Tonight RTE News issued an apology for reporting news. This will not stand.

You may be familiar by now with the anonymously donated nudes of Brian Cowen in the RHA and National Gallery.

Well RTE has been gradually censoring itself over the course of the day.

First the report which should be viewable on the RTE website was withdrawn. Next the captions on the images were changed. Now the images have been removed altogether. And finally RTE News apologised to Brian Cowen and the office of the Taoiseach for any offence caused.

I know who painted this and I know it has got even more bizarre behind the scenes. The Gardai are involved but funnily enough he hasn’t been charged with anything. Garda resources were squandered on this but what the hell, there were paintings at large.
This needs to be screamed from the rooftops: the very freedom to express dissent and poke fun at those in power is being attacked. Brian Cowen’s handlers have decided that Kim Jong-il has the right attitude and have started leaning on RTE to amend its coverage of our inglorious leader: Nob Nation had to tone it down 2 weeks ago (although the producer claimed there was no government interference with tonight’s form you’ve got to wonder) and now RTE had to apologise because the DG got a bollocking from the Government Press Office.

When the government can so clearly meddle in the broadcast decisions of the national broadcaster this should cause all of us concern. The news was changed today to reflect the offended sensibilities of those in power. This has been par for the course for years no doubt; but when something as frivolous as a report on a funny painting can be withdrawn from the RTE archive, that is cut and dried censorship of the innocuous. We are now not allowed to laugh at Brian Cowen.

Well I say no. That won’t do at all. I’ve written on about the importance of satire in society. Cowen’s handlers are exercising their influence over the increasingly frail RTE but they can’t stop people laughing. So even if you’re someone who’d lay down your life for Brian, you shouldn’t have to suppress your titters in a democracy.

EDIT: Irish Election have t-shirts for sale, proceeds going to the Rape Crisis Network.


  1. Fin Keegan

    March 25, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Outrageous. Thanks for documenting this.

  2. Picturegate or whatever we call it is not about a Facebook Group « Damien Mulley

    March 25, 2009 at 1:04 am

    […] is a meme starting on the Internet where Irish people are posting naked pictures of Brian Cowen on their blogs and Facebook profiles. Not enough. Let’s gather together with A1, A2 posters […]

  3. Bock the Robber

    March 25, 2009 at 1:07 am

    This is something we can’t tolerate.

    Now we see precisely what RTÉ is and we also finally understand the concept of a slightly democratic party.

    Dangerous times we live in. Very dangerous. These lads never wandered far from the days of Dan Breen and now that they’ve been exposed for the cowboys they are, the teeth are bared again.

    Never forget this: FF is not a political party. It’s a criminal conspiracy and it has absolutely nothing to do with democracy.

    Dangerous fucking times.

  4. » Blog Archive » The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature

    March 25, 2009 at 1:09 am

    […] I apologise, but this is about principle, freedom of speech, and news staying news. Reblogged from here […]

  5. Brian Cowen Nude Paintings | Inky Inky Finger

    March 25, 2009 at 1:32 am

    […] It seems people are less perplexed about this than I am, but more angry. Damien Mulley, who posted the first video here, just wrote his own blog post about RTÉ’s apology, and other artists are now starting to publish more naked pictures of Cowen. […]

  6. [ Irish KC ] » Kansas City Irish Festivals, Music, Pubs, & Events by an Artist in Ireland » When an Irish Leader is Naked

    March 25, 2009 at 1:41 am

    […] most eloquent of responses I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot – is by Allan Cavanagh on Caricatures Ireland, starting with his own brand new fully nude caricature before outlining the details of the story of […]

  7. Cowen’s painting | Gavin's Blog

    March 25, 2009 at 1:50 am

    […] suggestions, and the Irish blogosphere is up in arms. Let’s start by posting Alan’s excellent cartoon of Mr […]

  8. sw

    March 25, 2009 at 2:53 am

    “incarcerating interest in his other works”

    so they’ve taken some of his other works?

    first i heard of this was on indymedia i thought the artist had put that up himself, quoted somebody who access to the cloakroom some one who works at the gallery.

  9. More FF nonsense « A Word To The Wise… The Jackanory

    March 25, 2009 at 10:30 am

    […] pretty redundant. Damien has been been pretty on the ball. Alexia covered it (here and here) Gavin, Alan, Suzy… basically I’m the one of the last to jump on the […]

  10. Irish Election » “The Powers That Be Want Action Taken” on Brian Cowen’s Nude Pictures **Picturegate T Shirt**

    March 25, 2009 at 10:32 am

    […] not show your support for satire and get a t-shirt with Allan Cavanagh’s caricature on it? Proceeds to him […]

  11. Susan Hated Literature » Picturegate

    March 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

    […] play along and a caricature of Cown, only it’d be too much for me to look at everytime I visited the blog. Instead I’ll just share the link […]

  12. Deb

    March 25, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I’d like to buy a Taoiseach, I mean, T-shirt please 😀

  13. #picturegate « The Pointy Adventures Of Jean-Claude Supremo

    March 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

    […]… Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Starternews reporting.dis[re] 013Stop OpenDNS’ hijack of Firefox […]

  14. Alan Gartland

    March 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Well done to Pat Kenny on his radio show today for showing up RTE’s ridiculous appology, and Fianna” Fall’s’ ” blowing this up into something that can only become more and more embarrasing for Brian Cowen, as even more artists take up the batton for freedom of speech.

  15. admin

    March 25, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I haven’t heard it yet, I’ll check the RTE website later. Thanks for that Alan.

  16. Alan Gartland

    March 25, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I should have said freedom to laugh instead of freedom of speech after all we already have that , dont we ? lol lol lol lol

  17. Sean Jeating

    March 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Good on you!
    Omnium is with you.

  18. Jimbo Juggins

    March 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Ha, bloody ridiculous behaviour from the office of the Taoiseach.

    RTE should equally be ashamed of themselves for bowing to government pressure.


  19. Charlie

    March 25, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Just heard you on newstalk – well done mate! Love the drawing. Brilliant!

  20. Paul

    March 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Nice to hear Pat Kenny is on the right side. Now – who wants to club together with me to commission the artist to do a Naked Kenny next? I have a strange feeling Pat the Plank’s feelings on the matter might be subject to change!

  21. TheChrisD - Rant Central » Rants » Random Shit - 25th March

    March 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    […] Seeing something like this should be second nature to everybody by now. […]

  22. Harry Cavanagh

    March 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Your grandfather must be rocking in his grave!!!
    Harry C.

  23. admin

    March 25, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    In mirth Harry, in mirth 😀

  24. Damien

    March 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Jumping on the band wagon Allan??????

  25. admin

    March 25, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Whatever you think yourself Damien.

  26. Maman Poulet » Cowengate Roundup Day One

    March 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    […] there is art, countless photoshops, poems, t-shirts to purchase (Proceeds to Rape Crisis Network), international […]

  27. admin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Hey Charlie, thanks!

  28. admin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Why, you never know where that might turn up Paul.

  29. Bernard O'Neill

    March 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Storm in a D cup; Biffo for Tshirt! Coughlan for Tarnished-eh! Harney for-gotten!

  30. Teknovis » Irish Government Censorship

    March 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    […] For more coverage of this story from the Irish blogging community take a look at the recent posts by Maman Poulet, Damien Mulley, and Caricatures Ireland. This last web site has a very good caricature in The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature. […]

  31. gaius

    March 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    It’s flipping unreal stuff isn’t it. He sat on his big fat ass while the country fell apart but he springs like a tiger for this. The sooner himself and his party of goons are banished to the bottom of the Atlantic, the better.

    Anybody got higher res versions of the paintings so we can print them out and stick them everywhere?

  32. » Cowengate and Freedom of Expression

    March 26, 2009 at 6:48 am

    […] here | | Belfast Telegraph here and here | | Blog with a silly name | Bruno | Caricatures Ireland | Cerandor | China Daily | Christina McSorley | Cian Ginty | Clockwork Chartophylax | Creative […]

  33. » Cowengate: Pictures at an exhibition

    March 26, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    […] Caricatures Ireland and generally | Cerandor | China Daily | Christina McSorley | Cian Ginty | Clockwork Chartophylax […]

  34. Usual Suspect

    March 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Good Facebook group here, developing a decent head of steam..

    Even has it’s own Millitant Tendancy

    “As well might you leave the fairies to plough your land or the idle winds to sow it, as sit down and wait for freedom.” – Thomas Osborne Davis

  35. Usual Suspect

    March 26, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Forms for Broadcasting Complaints Commission to protest RTE’s grovelling apology here.

    Also email addresses for RTE complaints & Taoiseach’s office.

    As for the Militants, appear to have a Warhol inspired Post Box flyposter campaign underway!!!

    Genius. But should it be condoned? Discuss..

  36. Brian Cowen nude » clamnuts rants

    March 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

    […] anyway, Allan suggested the Micks draw Cowen naked and here he […]

  37. Saints, censors and satire « Sentence first

    March 27, 2009 at 11:39 am

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  38. lyn

    March 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I am a leaving cert student and I am writing to say how appauling it is that the office of taoiseach can have the power to make a public broadcaster apologise. We the people pay taxes for RTE to bring us news day in day out. News that will be brought to us regardless of the situation. When somebody is murdered you show the picture of the person that committed the crime. Regardless of if they want it or not, thats beacause news is news! So why in this case is a bit of light hearted fun been taken so seriously!?

    In this economic recession we are seeing people kill themselves over money issues. Were all being told to lighten up and that things can only get better. This picture which wasn’t even that bad in my opinion sparked a bit of humour back into the Irish.. what we need in a time like this. I don’t know what sort of country we’re living in when the Taoiseach can’t see that it was only a joke.

  39. Garreth

    March 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Seriously, is there anything more pathetic than a bunch of Nerds in the Blogosphere getting all jizzed up on moral outrage over something that people with real lives don’t give a toss about?

    Satire should never be censored, but equally, people, regardless of their position in society, have a right to their dignity.

    The nude cariacture of Cowen is not an attempt at political satire; its is an attempt to embarass the man, and is puerile in the extreme.

    Grow up, you losers.

  40. admin

    March 28, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Garreth, have you thought about sending your CV to RTE or the FF press office? Your jib seems to have the right cut.

  41. Bock the Robber

    March 28, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Garreth — Explain what makes this a police matter.

  42. Richie

    March 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Well said !! Whats going on in this country sickens me and i can only imagine what our previous generations would think, keep up the fight!!!

  43. Ciaran

    March 31, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Garreth, the reason people are getting “jizzed up” is not because of the content of the paintings or who is pictured. It’s because of the outrageously heavy-handed reaction to it.

  44. admin

    March 31, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    No Ciaran, stop being so rational! There’s a point to be missed here! It’s the internets! It’s full of bullies and pron! And Nerds with capital letters!

  45. Naked Cowen Paintings - Cowen made an arse of it. » Blog Archive » BifSniff

    April 1, 2009 at 12:32 am

    […] denies demanding an apology RHA Gallery did not complain to Gardai Allan Cavanagh on censorship and satire Damien Mulley calls for protest Some other coverage of it The Times (uk) on it And on and on and […]

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