Jude Collins

Monday, 5 December 2011

An Taoiseach cois na tine

I blame Franklin D Roosevelt  - he started it.  On Sunday 12 March 1933, shortly after his inauguration as US president, he began a series of radio broadcasts known as the "fireside chats". His first one was on the banks crisis, the second on his plans for recovery and others on similar topics like  the currency situation and  economic recovery. Apparently the American people really enjoyed them and they contributed to FDR's massive success as president.

Maybe Enda Kenny is hoping some of that success will rub off on him.  His first TV fireside chat (more may come) happened last night on RTÉ. Actually it wasn't by the fireside - he was at a desk, hands clasped in an odd manner, on his left an EU flag, on his right an Irish tricolour that looked as though it could do with a wash. What did he say? Well, things like  "Let me say this to you all: you are not responsible for the crisis". And "Let me be clear - Ireland supports stronger economic governance throughout Europe".  Or, rephrased: "I'm on your side" and "Germany will decide our financial affairs for us from now on".

We'll know whether Enda's chat last night was prophetic or just a load of guff by 2015, because that's when he figures Ireland (he used "Ireland" and "the country" quite a bit ) will be once more up and punching its weight in the financial markets. And jobs and all the rest of it. He did concede that the path he was outlining would be a thorny path: "We have not so far been in a position to do everything we promised".  Or, rephrased: "I know we said during the election campaign that we'd do certain things but, um, unfortunately we can't. Or won't. That was then, you see, this is now. We are where we are."

Now those flags. They were appropriate, I thought. The EU flag, because Germany with France is about to set things up so it decides financial arrangements in all EU member states. It's called revolver-to-the-head politics. We had it on this little island ninety years ago when Lloyd George told  Michael Collins and Co what would happen if they didn't sign on the dotted line. So it was only fit and proper that an EU flag dominated in Enda's office.

The Irish tricolour was even more appropriate. The white between the orange and green was, well, kind of grubby-looking. Symbolic, perhaps,  of the failure of successive southern governments to do anything beyond rhetoric about national unity. Or you could link the grubby national flag with Enda telling us that he travelled throughout the country when he really meant he travelled throughout the 26-county state. Because as far as Enda is concerned, we in the north don't exist. Like the man said, the opposite of love is not hatred but indifference.

Lighter moments? I can think of only one: "I want to be the Taoiseach who retrieves Ireland's economic sovereignty".  Well, you have to laugh, don't you?

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