'Europe is about patience and timing . . . It is not Ireland that is in focus this time'
INTERVIEW:ON THE EVE of the latest in a series of critical EU summits, Taoiseach Enda Kenny shrugs off claims by opponents that he is not putting Ireland’s case strongly enough in Brussels.“People assume that you can go out to Brussels and just start thumping the table and shout and roar and that people are going to respond to you. Europe is about patience and timing,” he says.
In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Kenny argues the most important way of achieving what is best for the country is establishing trust with other leaders.
“I think the most important thing we can build is a sense of trust and I believe that has grown in the last 15 months. European leaders now look at Ireland and they understand that we are going to do what we say we’ll do in regard to these measures.
“And I think that sense of trust will be very important when our play comes to be made.” He will not be making Ireland’s play for a deal on the country’s bank debt over the next two days but he will remind his fellow EU leaders of the position.
“It is not Ireland that is in focus this time. There are much bigger economies at the centre of the table on this occasion.
“I am going to speak in respect of the euro zone and the restriction that the banking euro crisis is causing for all countries, including Ireland, and make the point about our own country that we need assistance having built up that sense of trust. So it is a case of patience and timing.”
He reels off a list of EU countries, some of them much poorer than Ireland.
“You don’t hear other countries up in arms shouting about their needs every week. There is a process to be gone through. There are some very big economies and they can throw their weight around but Ireland is an essential cog in this and we are not going to be walked on by anybody.
“I reject completely the claim that Ireland has been too passive. It is a case of understanding how the process of the EU and the euro zone actually works.”
Mr Kenny says that Ministers and officials have been very active at making contact at political and official level and pressing not only Ireland’s own case but this country’s view of how the wider crisis needs to be dealt with.
His focus is on the prospect of a banking union being created over the next 12 months rather than a fiscal or political union over the medium to longer term and he is emphatic that another referendum is not going to happen in the near future.