Well, fair play to Enda. Front page of Time and a big set piece interview with that paper’s European editor is not to be sniffed at. Some may begrudge him the attention, and indeed Fintan O’Toole has suggested that of course he’s only doing what Fianna Fail would have done (H/T Niall).
Of course, we’ve been here before. Kenny’s party’s own Tallaght strategy created a degree of political security for the then Fianna Fail led government to take some of the draconian measures seen by many as the forerunner to prosperous period in the Republic’s first one hundred years of history.
In the process it helped to set up nearly twenty years of dominance of one party, Fianna Fail, over Irish politics. If the change in demeanour of Fianna Fail in the last couple of weeks is anything to go by, Kenny cannot expect anything like a reciprocation from that quarter this time out.
In the meantime, it won’t do Ireland PLC any harm to have the Taoiseach treated in this way. It won’t do the government parties any harm either to get a short respite from the Reilly affair which in the absence of any coherent answers from the minister continues to smoulder.
World Irish pick out some highlights from an interview laden with strategic messaging:
On getting Ireland out of its current economic woes:
It’s very difficult and it’s an enormous challenge, but given the nature of the Irish people we are anxious to exit from the bailout programme as quickly as we can.
Obviously we are interested in taking the decisions that will allow that to happen. And while it gratifying to hear the comments internationally about how Ireland is a model of how you can do this, where people work with government – we want to go beyond that to retrieve our economic independence.
People understand that this is an economic challenge and it is really difficult for so many people. But at the same time people understand that you have to do difficult things to sort out our own public finances and negotiate with their counterparts in the European sense to deal with Eurozone crisis.
This is the fourth year of this recession and it has been very challenging for so many people, but they say ‘look you were elected to deal with this problem, we know its difficult’.
Provided you explain to people what you’re doing, provided that its seen to be fair and in the greater interest of everybody and the country, were are prepared to take on that challenge and sort it out because the prize at the end is greater for everybody.
On the public’s opinion of him:
Irish people always like to feel that they have access to those whom they elect and if they want to say something to a Minister in Government or to the Head of Government, I think that that is very important. Their point of view is very important to me.
On what drives him:
What drives me is my belief that politics and that clear political decisions made in the best interest of the country and the people will restore Ireland’s fortunes.
All we need is to deal with the economic challenge.
I know we have the talent, I know we have the ingenuity, I know we have the capacity and the facilities to actually build an extraordinary country for the next 50 years
On not going back to the Celtic Tiger years:
The Celtic Tiger years were false years. They were build on a veneer of endless wealth without hard work.
What I want to do is go back to the time before that, to the late 1990’s when Ireland was creating a thousand jobs a week, when we were recognised in competitive terms as being in the top three in the world, when we were exporting huge quantities of quality brand products and that’s where we need to get back to.
Interview is here:
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty