Enda's gold star from Germany goes down like a lead balloon
DÁIL SKETCH:THE GOLDEN boy of Europe wasn’t around but his ears must have been burning with the Dáil commentary on his growing international reputation.
The announcement that Enda Kenny is “European of the Year”, an award to be presented in Berlin next month and hosted by the German Magazine Publishers Association, sparked political trench warfare.
The house had barely recovered from his Time magazine front-cover triumph when the latest award was announced – a nod of respect to the pro-European attitude of the Irish, the award givers say.
Views were mixed, praise from his own colleagues and criticism from opponents.
When Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen questioned the Tánaiste about his own remarks on the economy, he took a pot shot at the awards. He asked if “being on the cover of Time magazine and accepting awards is more important than telling his counterparts and the EU the real truth about what is happening in the Irish economy”.
Eamon Gilmore retorted: “The real truth is that people are suffering very badly from the consequences of what your party did in government prior to being booted out of office.” Barry Cowen had “some neck to come to the House and ask about what the EU thinks or what it is doing”, when his government “tied us hand and foot” to the EU-IMF agreement.
Cowen didn’t give up, recalling hostages to fortune promised by Labour before the election. The Taoiseach, he said, had “rubbished” the Tánaiste’s commitment to “burn the bondholders”. “I would say it was almost treasonous to give the people that impression but I will let the Tánaiste live by that commitment,” Cowen said.
Hitting back, Gilmore said they were obliged to get the best deal “because of the incredible mess and hames the previous government made of this”.
Enda might have been comforted by praise from Labour TD Michael Conaghan, who pictured the Taoiseach at the helm of the ship of State he had set afloat again. Saluting his captain, he said the Taoiseach’s image on Time’s front cover and the article, The Celtic Comeback, “is not to be laughed at. It is in stark contrast to images of his predecessor.”
Richard Boyd Barrett, however, warned the ship might be heading for an iceberg. Or perhaps he was suggesting the Taoiseach should beware of Germans bearing gifts. The troika “telling us how well we are doing” every three months was “pretty galling” to most people, he said. It doesn’t do much for Irish people’s morale then, when German magazines name him European of the Year. After all, he said the award was from a country “that is one of the key architects of austerity and this country’s plight”.
A German magazine telling Irish people “how well we’re doing when ordinary people are suffering, does no more than rub our noses in it”.
The Taoiseach, he suggested, “would be well advised to refuse such an award”.
What are the chances of that?