Pair at the helm of good ship Ireland have seen good, bad and inept moments over last two years
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at a press conference in Government Buildings in Dublin on June 16th, 2011, to mark the 100th day of the Fine Gael- Labour Coalition.
Kenny and Gilmore have a good relationship and have worked hard to ensure the Coalition remains cohesive
Enda Kenny, Taoiseach
Before he became Taoiseach Kenny was widely dismissed as not having the qualities necessary for the job but he has taken to office like a duck to water. His indefatigable energy and unremitting optimism have played a huge part in putting the country on the road to recovery.
The failed leadership heave against him in June 2010 was the making of Kenny. It showed the public that he had the steel necessary to govern and it gave him the confidence to lead Fine Gael to becoming the biggest party in the State.
Restoring Ireland’s international reputation has been one of his major achievements. His long involvement in the European People’s Party, where he rubbed shoulders with many of the leading figures in the EU including Angela Merkel, paid rich dividends.
He began that task badly with an unseemly spat at his first EU summit with former French president Nicholas Sarkozy. That row was greeted as a triumph in Ireland but could have done serious damage to relations with our EU partners if Kenny had not quickly clawed back the ground at later summits. Since then he has showed a sure touch in international relations that helped pave the way for a significant easing of the EU-IMF bailout terms.
His selection as European of the Year by a German judging panel reflects his performance on the EU stage, and he has also done well on his trips to the US where his frequent visits have helped to boost investment in Ireland.
Among the other high points of the two years have been the Dáil speeches on the Cloyne report in which he attacked the Vatican and his detailed response to the Magdalene report which compensated for his initial inept response.
On the negative side he can sometimes be glib in Dáil exchanges and the constant harping back to Fianna Fáil’s record is beginning to wear a bit thin.
He is still not comfortable in media interviews, and is much happier in the parliamentary forum where he feels at home.
Kenny clearly enjoys engaging with the public but his affability has never translated into the wide popularity achieved by his Fianna Fáil predecessors. That could be a problem in the years ahead as the Government struggles to retain its authority as it continues to implement spending cuts and tax increases.
Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste
Some of his own TDs are dubious about his choice of Foreign Affairs as a ministry but his role on the Economic Management Committee gives the Tánaiste a direct input into the shape of the Government’s economic policy.