EU presidency mentally ‘draining’ for Kenny

Taoiseach looks back on busy year in his political life

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny arrives for the second day of the European head of states summit, at the European Council headquarter in Brussels on  December 20th, 2013.  Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for the second day of the European head of states summit, at the European Council headquarter in Brussels on December 20th, 2013. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Wed, Jan 1, 2014, 08:19

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted he found parts of Ireland’s European Union presidency mentally draining.

As he looked back on some of the major political events of 2013, the Taoiseach said the six-month term in the first half of the year had been very busy.

“In fairness the Government had prepared for this six months beforehand, requiring ministers to make connection with European party colleagues and leaders of sectoral groups,” Mr Kenny said. “There was also engagement with the diplomatic service and public service generally. I have to say that in my

opinion they responded magnificently to what was an exceptionally busy period.

“I have to say that it was quite draining, mentally, to deal with all the range of meetings that had to be dealt with.”

This included hosting meetings on the European seven-year budget, reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), banking reform and EU-US trade. He said some of the issues had been “technically complex” and that by the time they had reached European Council level had “lost focus”.

“But I was in a position actually to ring leaders early in the morning (they might be an hour or two ahead of us) and to say, ‘Look, if you want this thing across the line, then you had better talk with Minister X or Y’, as the case may be,” the Taoiseach said. “And I think most people were pleasantly surprised at the extent of delivery that came through at the end of the day.”

Other busy parts of 2013 included the Dáil debate on promissory notes and the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation — formerly Anglo, he said. He also cited the establishment of the Personal Insolvency Service, negotiations on the Haddington Road Agreement, and debates on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill as other major developments.

Looking ahead, the Taoiseach said he wants 2014 to be the year of a “real relentless push” on jobs. He added that all ministers are to bring forward their own detailed plans for the medium-term economic strategy, which is the Government’s financial roadmap to recovery from now to 2020. He said this will be discussed in the new year.

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