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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 4, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

    Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Taoiseach Speaketh!

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Well, there you have it. No great surprises in that, were there? It was billed as a National Address but really it was in many ways a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the coalition partners. Quite rightly, the Opposition are getting a chance to reply.

    The message was predictably simple and uncomplicated. To summarise and paraphrase the Taoiseach’s remarks:-

    The country is in a bad way, folks, but we are leading you on the right road to solving the problems.

    We have to take some painful decisions in this week’s Budget but they are the right decisions and ye’ll all be the better for it.

    I know it’s tough but it’s the price we must pay to restore our economic sovereignty and create jobs.

    We’ll try and get that crowd in Europe to take the right decisions to shore up the single currency, otherwise we’re all screwed.

    Thank you and good night. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

    Enda Kenny comes from a strong Gaelic football background and his address tonight was reminiscent of a team-manager giving the lads a pep-talk in the dressing-room at half-time.

    Hopefully, people will be encouraged and derive some hope from the speech. There was nothing new but there was nothing too alarming either.

    After all, what can he say? The Government is ticking all the boxes for the EU and the IMF but we are all at the mercy of  international events.

    Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are playing a more important role in shaping our future at the present moment than Enda Kenny. If the Euro collapses, the price – at least in the short term – will be high and we’ll all be paying it.

    This was the sixth “State of the Nation” address since we got our own TV station, Telefís Éireann – now RTE.  None of the previous five are remembered with any particular fondness or admiration.

    At the outbreak of the Northern troubles, then-Taoiseach Jack Lynch gave two  telly-orations. The only memory most people have of them now is that he pledged the Government would not “stand by” if  violence and repression against nationalists continued.

    Apparently the script said “idly”, as in “stand idly by” and that is the phrase which went into folklore.

    Just over a decade later, Charles Haughey, newly-elected as Taoiseach, told his listeners that “we are living away beyond our means”. (My English teacher would have commented that is more correct to say “way bey0nd our means”.) He pledged to restore the nation’s finances, but political factors prevented him from taking any serious remedial action at that time although he got around to it some years later.

    Garret FitzGerald made two State of the Nation broadcasts but they are not widely-remembered. Bertie kept his counsel.

    The legislation for affording these opportunities specifies that there must be a “major emergency” at the time. However, TV3 was committed to broadcasting the “X-Factor” in a specific time-slot tonight, so the Taoiseach’s remarks had to be carried afterwards on that station, whereas RTE had him on-screen after the Nine O’Clock News.

    When Brian Cowen was taoiseach, there was much talk of  his making a similar broadcast  but he never got around to it. Most observers would agree that he was unwise not to take the opportunity.

    There were  few surprises in Enda Kenny’s speech tonight, it was mainly a scene-setter for a difficult Budget tomorrow and Tuesday. Interesting how popular the guy is as Taoiseach when his ratings were so mediocre as Opposition leader.

    NOTE: NOTE: This blog-post was originally written in advance of the Taoiseach’s speech and updated after he had finished. The first five comments below were written in response to the earlier version.

    • barbera says:

      I’m praying……..like I’ve never prayed before………for a POWER CUT tonight…..circa 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm

      State of “The Nation” my foot…………state of the peripheral little EU pawn that under the “leadership” of the current flaky coalition (A Roman Catholic that insults Rome and an atheist whose hubris knows no bounds) is in the process of losing everything from our Faith to not just our economic sovereignty but also our political sovereignty (in so far as that could be effectively retained as EU members). The previous administration set out the most effective plan for economic recovery following the Global Economic Crisis and had a marvelous record in diplomacy, but Kenny and his lot (given their historical treaty-signing predilections) and lack of diplomatic nous will sign anything put in front of them, so blinded by the illusion of “being in power” are they, that they are unable to see the trap they are walking into…and make right eejits of us at the same time
      Somebody for Heaven’s sake hide Enda’s biro…
      (Btw…….our church where I live (on the East coast) was absolutely packed for Sunday Mass which was in Irish….beautiful. Yiz don’t know what yizzer missing..!)

    • Mark Simpson says:

      Interesting stuff.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Unless his speech starts off announcing massive cuts to pay all across the top levels of the public sector and an end to all expenses and allowances paid then anything else he says is utterly meaningless. We’ve haven’t a pot to pi** in and he still thinks he has a right to take a €200k salary plus pension plus expenses. The difference between when Haughey made his comments is that we are literally and legally bankrupt not just being mismanaged and yet Kenny and Gilmore will fight to the death to protect the public sector.

      Where are the ‘big ideas’ – I thought this government had big brains in Varadkar, Hayes, Bruton (I can’t think of anyone in Labour who is classed as an intellectual but feel free to remind me …).

      For example, how do you deal with equality and costs regarding pensions – you provide one basic state pension to everyone, no matter where they worked – public or private or what they earned; say €400 per week, with a retirement age of 70 for men and women and scrap all public sector pensions and all pension tax relief for the private sector.

      Secondly, at the moment mortgages, childcare and transport are the three biggest costs people have that are preventing them getting financial stability. So create a life long rental market as on the continent and remove once and for all the boil of home ownership obsession but within the context of a properly regulated rental sector while also creating a preschool layer of education and investing in a proper public transport system.

      But … these sort of decisions can’t be taken because the people who would take them have had their political mentality shaped in the 70s and 80s and are now all past middle aged grey men who have never worked in the real world (have any of the 4 members of the economic council had a proper job?). So they are simply incapable of understanding the scale of change needed to fix Ireland.

      Mr Kenny did wonders for FG and he should be proud of and applauded for that success but we need a different set of skills to sort this mess out and he is not the man who is capable of delivering what we need.

      The really depressing thing is that there is no one else waiting in the wings who’d be any better than him.

    • barb.ie says:

      Inda is going to declare war on Germany..!

      LOL LOL,LOL.LOL.RAOTFL.RAFLMAO.ROFLABAOTP

      “…how popular the guy is as Taoiseach..”

      What planet are you on Deaglán?? I’m hoping.that was sarcasm..
      In truth, I have never disliked a Taoiseach more, or felt less confidence in a Taoiseach’s ability at a time of great crisis……..and as for the Tanaiste………what a farce…….Begone eejits.! Back to the shadows of opposition where ye spent most of ye’re time wasting, and where ye were as ineffectual as ye are now

    • “He pledged to restore the nation’s finances, but political factors prevented him from taking any serious remedial action at that time although he got around to it some years later.”

      Had I been drinking coffee it would be all over my keyboard by now. Political factors did not prevent him from taking any serious remedial action at that time, his party had an overwhelming majority in the Dáil. He simply choose to ignore the measures that were required in order to ensure his party won the next election come what may.

      Nor did he get around to it some years later. The credit for stopping the rot rests first and foremost with the FG/Lab coalition and the credit for starting the reversing of the rot rests primarily with Ray MacSharry and with Alan Dukes
      for ensuring that Mac the Knife had the support in the Oireachtas to get on with it without facing a rebellion in FF at the depth of the cuts.

    • @5: Good to have you back on the blog, Daniel. I don’t want to be cast in the role of defending Charles Haughey, whose failings are so well-known at this stage, but we all have a duty to the facts. Although Haughey’s party had a big majority in 1980, he didn’t have sufficient internal support for the harsh medicine he sought to prescribe in his State of the Nation address. You are right to give a lot of credit to Ray MacSharry for subsequent action but, er, who appointed him as Minister for Finance? As I say, I don’t want to be shielding Haughey from criticism in any shape or form, but even his harshest critics would agree he took tough remedial action on the economy with MacSharry and the support of Dukes from Opposition.

    • Barbera says:

      Ireland – the State in dire straits – and this is what we get, a piece of choreographed flimflam from an inanimate Taoiseach that looked like he was being operated by the strings of handlers, hidden behind the arras. I want to love and be inspired by a leader of this country…I really do….but with all the falsity and ineptitude coming from this coalition, I am in a state of despondency. More and more I am drawn to the opposition benches for inspiration and without a doubt Micheál Martin’s star is rising. The opposition leader is most definitely a leader I could love. As a minister for foreign affairs, he was second to none and that is exactly the kind of diplomat we need at this time; and if the Euro survives and treaties are signed, I could begin to love this no-nonsense, down-to-earth German, Frau Merkel, should she become “Queen” of the EU. You just know she means business…but Micheál Martin, an ambassador leader, greatly experienced in international diplomacy, with impeccable manners and superior debating skills is exactly what would benefit us at the Court of “Queen Merkel” – Yes, I could love this arrangement……..it’s all about love when all’s said and done….and believability……..and who wouldn’t suffer pain (even budgetary) for the ones they love

    • @7: Why do I feel like you’re taking the p***? Even the FF press office wouldn’t come out with this OTT stuff.

    • KB says:

      Martin a leader to love? Didn’t show much leadership when his party was in office did he? We have no politicians who have a vision for Ireland, most of them inherited their seat from a relative. No wonder Ireland is so poorly served by her politicians. As for Kenny’s party political broadcast: Can I have my tv license fee back please?

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      Meanwhile in An Taoiseach’s home county of Mayo € 560 billion ( at a conservative estimate ) worth of gas is been given away to Shell / Statoil for free and here is this fella going on about how we are spending € 16 billion a year more than we are taking in

      The solution is obvious. Nationalise the Corrib gas field.

    • JOC says:

      @8 – I wouldn’t be so sure, Deaglan, there’s quite a few deluded people out there. It’s people like Barbera that shout the loudest and get most attention for their party. Far too many have short memories – there was undoubtedly an FF support based behind Sean Gallagher before that fateful broadcast. Question: are those who elected FF & Co repeatedly not somewhat to blame? Debt per head is 300K compared with 30K in Italy. Italy will never re-elect Silvio, but I’m afraid FF won’t be warming the opposition benches for too long. Short memories, I’m telling you. (I liked your paraphrase and you also gave me a great laugh over your CJ remarks.)

    • barbera says:

      Sorry, Deaglán, if my lack of enthusiasm for one leader and my over-enthusiasm for another propelled my words on to the borders of waxing lyrical….perhaps hysterical even; but I certainly do not “take the p***,” as you (uncharacteristically) say. In times of crisis, especially, we need leaders that inspire/command the love and respect of the people. There have been many inspiring leaders, much-loved, including tyrants, of course – Roosevelt, Nehru, Lincoln, Gandhi, Hitler, Castro, Stalin, Thatcher..
      All I’m saying is that I am not inspired by and do not love Enda Kenny as a leader and am incensed by this coalition’s dreadful decision to close one of Ireland’s oldest Mission’s abroad………but I am inspired by and could love Micheál Martin as a leader; and as someone completely outside of the political arena (that is with no Political Party affiliation), I certainly have no interest whatsoever in whether my words match up to propaganda issued by any Political Party’s Press Office. Politicians, for good or ill, operate on many levels…not least, the personal…or even the poetical…think of some of the beautiful Psalms…attributed to King Solomon….or even The Song of Songs,which is Solomon’s…(at least, that is its title in the Hebrew Bible)

    • barbera says:

      PS — Can’t wait for Micheál Martin’s counter address to the Nation tonight after the 9:00 pm news..!

    • The Taoiseach was correct to address the nation and it was an opportunity unfortunately missed by his predecessor. However I do not feel he said an awful lot, I certainly did not feel particularly better informed or reassured afterwards.

      Re @7 above, Barbera is clearly a perceptive and intelligent lady, with perhaps an added penchant for poetry :-)

      To continue the theme, and to work back from our present difficulties, one could argue the earlier administrations (02-07) flaw was to have “loved not wisely, but too well”…

    • RPE McCarthy says:

      While I don’t think these outings do any harm (per se) there is something more than vaguely 20th century about it all.

      Along with FDR’s fireside chats that were played in the cinemas one would have to quesion the effectiveness of this as an approach. The media landscape is balkanised now and it is perhaps a stronger reflection of the moribund political scene in Ireland that a communication via RTE1, Radio 1 or the Irish Times is seen as communicating to “the nation” whatever that is.

      Over 30% of the population Kenny is meant to be governing didn’t vote in the last election. What about them?

      I felt as though I was being transported back in time.

      I think it would be more appropriate to have much more frequent bulletins just like this that are much more interactive. Then it may start to feel current.

      One address is not enough. He is the elected leader of the nation. It should be part of a continuing official dialogue.

      Tony Blair did this kind of thing constantly, the US Prez has his weekly meeting with the WH Press Corps – it should happen much more frequently.

    • Andy says:

      @1 @7 Wow. . . I couldn’t even read half of that nonsensical drivel.

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      @ 9

      Yes , lets hear what the political party that actually caused all this mess have to say

    • barbera says:

      @ 12 — Your use of that expression “WOW”
      Surely not yerself…..(ex-prez MMcA) using a nom de plume? (Tell me it ain’t that old “Ruby” Deaglán…!)

      I reckon some of the big stores have put the new VAT on stuff already..

      (ps — don’t know why you didn’t post my reply to you @ 8 Deaglán………..never mind, it’s your blog…to do what you like…..my God the Indo is terrible for censoring……..terrible…….real Big Brother stuff going on there)

    • arbera says:

      er……..my comment @ 18 is now directed to the comment @ 16 and not @ 12

      @ 17 — Scarecrows………..”the mess”, as you call it is being experienced by almost every country particularly in the Western World and is especially evident to us in the EU as member states topple almost in the way that dominoes do. The Global Economic Crisis has revealed the weaknesses and unsustainability of the Economic System that had been in operation for some time now. It is a natural inclination of people in individual countries to blame all their crisis woes on the government in power at the time of collapse but as we clearly see and especially in our case, a new government is powerless, ineffectual, and all the more so, and even dangerous, in that it lacks experience and especially experience at the coalface in crisis negotiations. We should never have changed government at this time, in my opinion. Brian Cowen was on the right track along with Brian Lenihan (RIP) to bring about recovery but he did not get a fair crack at the whip due to the tsunami of global events and the politically opportunistic use of such (to the detriment of our situation vis a vis the markets, in my opinion) by the opposition at the time, which let’s face it were dormant for the last half century at least.

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      sorry, my comment @ 17 should have been directed @ 13 and not @ 9

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      After a few minutes of him talking my mind wandered and I spent the rest of it intently checking to see when he would move his hands but he didn’t once flinch the entire time. I wonder how many runs they had to record it before they got through the entire 15 minutes in one go.

    • Dan O' Connor says:

      When will our real Taoiseach come and talk to us, Angela we’re only an hour away. Don’t let Enda and his gang do all your dirty work.

    • rbera says:

      @ 21 — I am convinced they used a replicant Taoiseach………like the Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 model from Blade Runner…….

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      @ 19

      Yes, lets just get rid of this democracy thing altogether why don’t we? Fianna Fail are where they rightly belong .Out of office. FG/ Labour are no better however …….

    • arebrab says:

      @ 24 — What do you suggest………a Parliament of Crows………(that is the collective noun for crows btw)….
      I would hope one does not think we’d be better off with our current eclectic bunch of Independents at the helm; and much and all as he is a colourful character (literally), given recent events, I do not feel Mick Wallace, for example, should remain in the Dáil……….and has Claire Daly become a fashionista?? Have to say she looks brilliant — very articulate, also but needs a lot more experience. in my very strong opinion, the best person/politician at the moment in the Dáil is Micheál Martin. We should just forget party politics now and use the best people from right across the political and academic spectrums at this time of crisis.

    • Scarecrows Of The Stipe says:

      @ 25

      Michael Martin didnt show much backbone when he was in office under the previous administration .Its very easy for him to make the right noises and say the right things now when hes not in power . Why didnt he do that when he had the chance .
      If you are saying we shouldnt have changed govt at all it is basically saying ” alright lads ye can do as ye want here as there will be no consequences and we will vote ye back in again ” . I cant stand FG/ Labour but voting FF in again would have been like rewarding incompetence

      I’m not even going to address your comment referring to Stalin & Hitler as ” inspiring leaders”………

    • Barbera says:

      @ 26 — Oh come on……..Micheal Martin introduced the smoking ban…..special needs assistants……loads of money into education….brilliant diplomat…….I could go on…………And no matter who, or what party, was in government at this time of GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS they would have come up for “crucifixion”. Why don’t people get this I’ll never know??????????? The same thing that is happening to us is happening throughout the Eurozone.
      As for your not addressing some ref. I made to Stalin & Hitler………..read my comment again. I did mention tyrants. Is it not true that evil also “inspires”??……………….millions of ordinary German people fell under Hitler’s spell……..given the “right” circumstances fascism will come about…………I sense it is in the air at the moment….
      Beware of people wearing blue shirts I say..!!

    • Scarecrows Of The Stipe says:

      You are deluded if you think FF didnt have a hand in the financial collapse of this county. You are making it sound like everything was out of our control. They were the govt at the time and as such must be held accountable.

      Like i said earlier they are where they rightly belong. My only fear is that it may not be too long before they are back and have some of us under their ” spell ” again

    • barbera says:

      @ 28 *********
      Well, isn’t it just so easy to argue from hindsight.
      Everyone, in every party right across the political spectrum and the banking system especially, had “a hand” in what eventually came about as “financial collapse” and many would argue that the policies that FG/Labour would have carried out (had the people elected them to power instead of FF — which the people most certainly did not) would have left us in a state even worse off than we are now in the event of UNPRECEDENTED Global Economic Crisis which was going to reveal the problems of a single currency and the EU.
      One thing for sure, no amount of poison’d entrails (recipe below) their spin doctors stir up against FF in the media cauldron would make this citizen fall under the “spell” of Enda & Eamon..!

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
      Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
      Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
      Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
      Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
      For a charm of powerful trouble,
      Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      @ 29

      1 word which shows that FF/ FG/ Labour are all the same shower.

      Rossport.

    • barbera says:

      @ 30

      Lawks..!! What hope for the nation is there, if Patrick citizen cannot even tell the difference between Stork and Butter..!!

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      @31 or the frying pan and the fire……………

    • barbera says:

      Touché……agus truce..!! Happy Christmas, Scarecrows………and especially Deaglán and all @ The Politics Blog..

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      @ 33

      Fair enough ! Happy xmas yourself and all the best for the New Year !

    • lacoste says:

      The next Technocrat?

      Italian Mario Monti, former international adviser to Goldman Sachs, is the Technocrat Prime Minister of Italy.

      Greek Lucas Papademos, former head of Greece’s Central Bank/ worked closely with Goldman Sachs, is the Technocrat Prime Minister of Greece.

      Irish Peter Sutherland, former Attorney General of Ireland, former European Commissioner, presently Chairman of Goldman Sachs International . . .

      If Ireland votes ‘Yes’, what are the odds on Peter Sutherland being appointed as Enda Kenny’s replacement as Technocrat Taoiseach?


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