Miriam Lord’s week: Low-key conga to celebrate the end of days

And they said they wanted a low-key exit

Enda Kenny has a tough television slot tomorrow night when he delivers his state of the nation address. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year extravaganza is showing over on the other side. Photograph: PA

Enda Kenny has a tough television slot tomorrow night when he delivers his state of the nation address. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year extravaganza is showing over on the other side. Photograph: PA

Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 01:00

They haven’t gone away, you know. Our European overlords will still be maintaining a presence in Dublin. But that didn’t stop the Government marking Bailout Weekend with a bang yesterday. They said they wanted a low-key exit but fooled nobody. Ministers only stopped short of doing the conga around Merrion Square.

Good news announcements started rolling in from various departments. Every detail of the day was shoved up on twitter. A glossy brochure was produced, along with a fancy diagram charting the country’s progress from the assistance programme.

Pat Rabbitte and Michael Noonan were out on the national airwaves at the crack of dawn.

Pat spoke of “patient diplomacy behind closed doors in a number of the capitals in Europe” while raising tentative hopes for “an amelioration of the debt burden”.

The media blitz began in earnest with Richard Bruton’s breakfast meeting with the international press in Government Buildings. He was joined by representatives from investment agencies.

When they realised a journalist from South Korea was present, they nearly suffocated the poor woman with information about the Irish food industry making inroads in Asia.

There was cheese and ham on the menu. All day, in fact.

“As a farmer’s son, food is particularly dear to me,” said Richard.

The “benchmarking of the milestones” continued in another part of the building when Joan Burton held court next. She joined the chorus of colleagues praising the people for making sacrifices. Her department has done the divil and all for employment, she told the foreign journalists.

“For the benefit of the people from abroad, there’s a little known Irish phrase about ‘not losing the run of yourselves’,” she explained. “We’re determined not to lose the run of ourselves.”

Up in Co Louth, Enda was making a jobs announcement while posing for photographs in front of a flaming wall at the Glen Dimplex factory. His face and hands glowed red.

It seemed a clever way for the Taoiseach to illustrate how his Government has pulled the Irish economy out of the fire.

But he ended up looking like the devil, smirking through the fires of hell.

Back in Dublin, across the Liffey from the main action, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore made a big speech at the European Institute HQ to mark the lifting of the troika’s yoke.

The big draw of the morning was Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin’s press conference. Beaming for the cameras, the Finance and Public Expenditure kingpins exchanged hearty handshakes.

“The real heroes and heroines of this story are the Irish people,” said Noonan. “Fortitude and forbearance” chimed in Howlin.

But oh, marvelled the austerity twins in the throes of their bromance, they thought they would never reach this landmark.

Even if nothing much will change in the short term, they agreed. Except for perception, mused Noonan. We are in control of our destiny again. Not to be alarmist, or anything.

Howlin, meanwhile, directed some of the plentiful gratitude towards his Labour colleagues: “The most disciplined and thoughtful parliamentary party that I’ve worked with.”

Apart, one presumes, from the defectors.

Things are looking up domestically, he insisted. “Try to book a restaurant in Dublin tonight.”

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