Enda spiels on close encounters of famous kind

Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 00:00

Dáil Sketch“I had the opportunity on Sunday to meet Mr Spielberg,” said Enda.

As you do. Just thought he’d mention that in the Dáil.

And who do you think was with Mr Spielberg? “Hopefully another Oscar winner for the third time – Daniel Day-Lewis,” continued Enda.

Shameless, dropping another name.

The Taoiseach explained he had touched base with the two “in respect of their major production of Lincoln”.

And how’s it doing at the box office? Too soon to say, but Enda told the chamber: “I hope it’s an outstanding success.” There’s a line for the publicity posters.

Well. They were green with envy across the floor. Except for Richard Boyd-Barrett, who didn’t look particularly impressed. But then, the People Before Profit politician has family connections with the theatre. His head isn’t so easily turned.

Hollywood stars one day. Herman Van Rompuy the next. It’s all glamour for Enda.

So, as the Taoiseach told the Dáil, he was shooting the breeze with his new VBFs from the movie world when Day-Lewis “made the point to me that the country here offers enormous potential in that area, by being consistent in terms of what we offer, by having capacity for production”.

People in the film industry of “stature” and “global influence” are “very pleased with the sort of creative ingenuity of the Irish personality”. It’s why the Government continued its incentives for movies in the budget, pointed out the Taoiseach. Tax breaks for great talent, so to speak.

Enda is a glass-half-full sort of guy. Whether he’s talking about the economy, job creation or showbiz, he always takes the path of positivity. It’s why they love him in America. The audience is tougher in the Dáil.

RBB wasn’t so convinced after listening to a stirring soliloquy from the Taoiseach on the issue of jobs and growth. Even after Enda had listed a string of achievements on the jobs front here and reeled off a roll-call of all the talented people he had met in his travels around the country last week.

“Young, energetic people, dealing with what they see as a competitive situation here in Ireland,” he said – but the talent doesn’t stop there. “Indeed, the humble potato, with a turnover of €100 million in Tayto Park, saw 78 new jobs announced last week in the adjoining facility.”

Even our vegetables are job creators.

We understand Enda is meeting a delegation of humble carrots at Government Buildings today. They are announcing a major employment plan in conjunction with Specsavers.

Their mission statement is simple: Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses? Things are looking up.

There even seemed to be movement on the international money front yesterday, with a smiling Michael Noonan making soothing noises from Brussels on the national debt.

Boyd-Barrett wasn’t getting carried along with the upbeat mood. “ When I ask you these questions, I am almost lulled by your dulcet tones and fervent optimism into feeling like a spoilsport in raining on the party of optimism you are promoting when it comes to jobs,” he said.

We could almost see a little sprinkling of stardust settling on the chamber.

Enda smiled. Hooray for Hollywood! Richard woke from his reverie.

“I almost feel guilty, but then I go outside and suddenly I am snapped back into reality because the talent he mentioned, which is out there on the streets and which this country is full of – we agree on that point – is being utterly wasted.”

Close your eyes, and you could have been listening to Daniel Day-Lewis in full flow.

It was very emotional.

“I am as aware as the Taoiseach is that this is a country of great talent, great writers and authors . . . but hundreds of thousands of those talents are being wasted and flooded out of the country.”

That ruined the mood somewhat.

Except for Ming Flanagan, who looked very happy, perusing his iPad and grinning away. As if people were sending him nice messages, or something.

Maybe they were, because Ming celebrated his 41st birthday yesterday. He wore his birthday jumper – and a big smile.

We wished him all the best. Was he going out for a celebration? (Forty-one can be a difficult milestone.) “I went out on Friday night,” he said. “I’m not telling you where.”

Ah, go on.

“I went out with a friend and we relived our youth by going out and drinking Buckfast.”

Very Hollywood. Particularly as we couldn’t work out whether he was acting or not.

Back in the chamber, Enda was all on his own for most of the day. During Leaders’ Questions, he was joined on the front bench by Leo Varadkar. Almost all the rest of the Cabinet was in Brussels.

Minister Varadkar had just returned from there. When questions finished, he got up to leave, carrying what appeared to be an overnight bag. He must have been exhausted.

Meanwhile, over in Brussels, the place was heaving with Irish Ministers out on presidency duty. The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, Alan Shatter, Michael Noonan, Richard Bruton, Lucinda Creighton and Joe Costello were doing their thing for Ireland and the EU.

Enda was left dangerously exposed. He had no cover during Taoiseach’s Questions or the Order of Business. This gave Peter Mathews a chance to explain the finer points of economics to him at length.

You could see the Taoiseach would have much preferred an audience with Spielberg.