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Stupid aul' Reg hack has tin ear

Irish PM does talk like Lucky the Leprechaun

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Correction In a recent article about electronic voting in Ireland, I claimed that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had been misquoted in a Sunday Times article by Mark Tighe on the same topic. Speaking in the Dáil, Bertie had advocated resurrecting Ireland's electronic voting terminals whilst decrying the insult to Irish sophistication implied by voting with "stupid old pencils."

At least that's how I heard it. Mark heard it differently and quoted him as saying "stupid aul' pencils."

"We can assure readers that the Taoiseach does not, in fact, talk like animated Lucky Charms cereal pitchman Lucky the Leprechaun," I had written in a smart-alecky tone.

Mark was kind enough to send me a recording, to which I listened carefully, headphones and all. And I have to say in all honesty that I continued hearing it as "old pencils". But I listened several more times, and will allow that my brain was likely translating what it heard into what it expected to hear. Sure enough, Bertie sounds just like aul' Lucky himself, no doubt emphasizing his working-class accent to sound like a man of the people - much the way Mick Jagger sounds just like überyokel Gomer Pyle singing "you kaiynt oweeys git wut you waaw-unt," because he innocently imagined it would make him sound "black".

The Register regrets the error, and apologises to The Times, to Mark, and above all, to our readers. ®

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