Enda ties himself in knots with EU faux pas


It is the first triumph of the Irish presidency.

How to capture the mood of a proud but suffering nation in glorious colour? We’ve done it, thanks to a small duck with a short neck. Teal is the colour – Austeriteal, to be precise – defiantly green with sad overtones of blue.

The Government’s plumage of choice for the next six months is the Austeriteal silk tie, commissioned to mark our stint at the helm of Europe. It will be around some of the hardest necks in Europe this season.

Spotted duck

Ireland’s signature shade of spotted duck (the tie is riddled with bilious lime specks) got its first big outing in Dublin Castle yesterday when it was modelled by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and the president of the European Council.

Their initial attempt at political wardrobe co-ordination failed when Enda Kenny appeared for the official handshake wearing a racy red number. We know he gets up very early in the morning. Now we know he dresses in the dark.

As the Taoiseach bounced happily down the corridor towards the cameras, a photographer pointed to Eamon Gilmore and Herman Van Rompuy. “Every woman’s nightmare,” he whispered. A rather harsh assessment, we thought, until we realised both men were wearing the same outfit of grey suit, white shirt and Austeriteal tie.

Happily, when the trio appeared after lunch for their press conference, Enda’s wardrobe malfunction had been rectified and they went on to talk optimistically about the future and the ties that bind.

The visit by Van Rompuy was the first major event of the presidency. Officials buzzed about in a quiet panic, anxious to ensure that these opening proceedings would go off without a hitch. Photographers were taken to the castle’s spacious Battleaxe Landing and told to await further instructions. At one point, a civil servant rushed up the main staircase. She motioned urgently to the photographers.

“Could you take a step back please? Step back. The Minister is coming. Step back!” The sound of high heels clicking on marble rose up from below. Lucinda Creighton – for it was she – accompanied by her aides, came beetling around the bannister. “I made sure to wear my EU scarf,” she said to one of them as she swept past.

Which is more than could be said for her boss.

Lucinda’s arrival

After the high-octane excitement of Lucinda’s arrival, the photographers, weak with indifference, waited for the Big Three. After what seemed like an age, with stressed-looking officials shuttling in and out of the drawing room and whispering into their phones, they emerged.

Enda bustled out first. Showing impressive discipline, he didn’t start high-fiving Herman as soon as he saw the cameras. They did the handshake. Except it was more of an awkward clasp, wrists over wrists, as if they were about to burst into a three-hand reel or impromptu Gangnam Style canter. It all went off swimmingly, if silently, and then they shot through a side door and were gone.

Gone to lunch, actually. We could smell it.

Once the photocall was out of the way, they repaired to the James Connolly Room for a warm salad of Newport black pudding with Cashel blue cheese and mustard dressing followed by medallions of Irish beef in red wine jus with black pepper mash and roast field mushrooms. There was classic lemon tart with clotted cream and vanilla-spiced strawberries for dessert.

Thus fortified, they moved on to the press conference. It was held in King George’s Hall, where once ran the writ of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty. Oh, the memories of tribunals past. The place hasn’t changed much. But it’s been given a lick of paint and a good dusting.

More bustling by officials, followed by a large influx of EU mandarins and sundry political advisers. The top table was already set up, but not to specification. The workaday jugs of water and glasses were hurriedly removed, replaced by beautiful cut crystal ones.

Only then could Enda, Eamon and Herman make their entrance, togged out like triplets in their grey suits and Austeriteal green silk ties.

Only four questions allowed. We felt sorry for the journalists who had travelled from Brussels for such slim pickings. Until we heard they are being squired about by the tourist board and fed the best of Irish food by Bord Bia and treated to separate briefings on matters of real interest to European correspondents (not little Ireland’s financial woes).