In praise of Enda Kenny

 

Political speeches tend to go in one ear and out the other. But Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s emotional Dáil contribution on the Magdalene laundries will not be forgotten quickly.

Mr Kenny’s heartfelt apology on behalf of the State to women who had spent time in the laundries was delivered with sensitivity.

The apology was made all the more powerful by his moment of apparent weakness when his composure escaped him and his voice choked as he struggled to conclude his statement. It was clear the series of meetings in Dublin and London between the Taoiseach and the women had a more profound impact on him than any report ever could.

When he recalled one of those meetings in the Dáil on Tuesday night, the clumsiness of his initial response to former senator Martin McAleese’s report on the institutions was forgotten.

What was particularly striking was that he fought the temptation to adopt politically partisan language. The professional facade was dropped and he revealed a softer side that confounded even the most cynical observer of politics.

It was a rare night: one on which something good and pure happened in Leinster House. Even in times of austerity, there is still room for empathy.

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