Double act keen to strike the right note
Last year’s “mad borrowing” clanger was finally forgotten yesterday morning in snowy Davos when Enda Kenny donned a grin to wallop a gong.
Though not as bronzed or muscular as the famous Rank Film gong man, Mr Kenny proved he was more than game to make some noise on live television to open European financial markets yesterday. As Michael Noonan looked on in the chilly Alpine air, Mr Kenny told European traders tuned in to CNBC that Ireland was in Davos to improve the terms of bailout terms he deemed “unfair”.
Gong deal done, the Taoiseach got in out of the cold and into the exclusive warmth of the Davos bunker for a long day of meetings.
As the Taoiseach worked the lounge to push Ireland’s debt deal envelope, his minders fought a valiant battle to secure those rarest of Davos resources: snacks and chairs.
First up was a meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who was reportedly even more positive in private than in public on Ireland’s debt concessions. She comes to Dublin on March 8th to discuss reform progress and has asked for a meeting with Mná na hEireann.
“She’s a very pleasant woman,” said Mr Noonan. Proving he will leave no boulevard unexplored with the Frenchwoman, he added: “Her personal assistant in Paris was a Limerick girl whose family I knew, so theres that connection.”
As the day wore on, Mr Kenny refriended Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg while Mr Noonan hooked up with the next Bank of England governor, Mark Carney.
“You can make a lot of contacts over a short time but you get out of it what you put into it,” said Mr Noonan. “People who prepare carefully get a lot done, people who come for the fun can’t find people they want to meet.”
In case anyone thought he was having fun, he added drily: “We prepared carefully.”
Mr Kenny was whisked off to a working lunch which, in Davos parlance, is speed-dating with food. Alongside EU commissioner Olli Rehn, British chancellor George Osborne and others, The Taoiseach was given two minutes to give his in-depth assessment of the eurozone crisis.
“It was a bit ridiculous, to be honest,” said one attendee.
The Irish show moved on to a booked-out IDA dinner with 40 big clients. After further speedy talks today, the Mr Kenny departs the magic mountain for another year. Here today, gong tomorrow.