Kenny, Bruton work well as double act in the Gulf

Duo address business forum at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton with  HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi  today.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi today.


You have to wonder if Richard Bruton sometimes debates what might have been.

With a 2010 Prime Time putsch, he sought to oust Enda Kenny from the Fine Gael leadership but his challenge fell short.

Old friends forgive and those days seem to have been put to one side. In the Gulf this week, the now Minister for Jobs and the Taoiseach have worked well as a double act.

Today the duo, leading an Enterprise Ireland trade mission, addressed a business forum at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.

The hosts presented the Taoiseach with a striking statue of a falcon, an important symbol in the Gulf. Mr Bruton graciously smiled when he subsequently accepted the gift of a silver plate.

The Abu Dhabi minister for labour, Saqr Ghoubash, welcomed his guests from the “friendly Republic of Ireland” and explained how the “outstanding planning” and “wise leadership” of the government was steering Abu Dhabi through great times.

He said he hoped to build a “lucrative” relationship with Ireland and Abu Dhabi was ranked as the fourth best place in the world to establish a business.

Mr Bruton came next. He told his audience that Irish firms could add value to Abu Dhabi’s plan to become a knowledge economy. International companies were the tall oaks in the Irish business forest but small firms, such as those on the mission, were “flourishing on the forest floor”.

He outlined how the Taoiseach had strong ambitions for Ireland and said the State had won international endorsement. Mr Kenny has been proudly citing Forbes magazine’s choice of Ireland as the best place on the planet to do business full stop.

The Taoiseach then told the chamber Ireland had come to strengthen trade in both ways and that, having exited the bailout, was back on the international stage.

The Action Plan for Jobs, driven by Mr Bruton in particular, was working well and delivered 58,000 jobs last year, he said.

Earlier, the Taoiseach flew solo at Etihad Airways, where he took a tour and met chief executive James Hogan. He spoke to some of the 150 Irish people working for the airline, a GAA sponsor.

He presented a Certificate of Irish Heritage to Hogan, an Australian but with a name like that there were obvious gaelic links. The CEO later insisted the Hogan Stand in Croke Park had nothing to do with Etihad’s sponsorship.

Mr Kenny left to meet the crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan and foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Then it was on to the Emirates Palace where the Chamber of Commerce treated the Irish delegation to lunch. The sheer scale of the luxury hotel left many of the travelling party gobsmacked.

The afternoon was dominated by a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque, which our duo learned was one of the largest anywhere.

The mosque, home to the biggest carpet ever made and a series of spectacular chandeliers, features a massive amount of white marble, which tour guide Ishaq told them reflected the heat even at 40 degrees.

“If you put me in here in that heat I’d fall down,” the Taoiseach said.

“You’d be like a fried egg,” Mr Bruton followed up, drawing a laugh from the boss.

The double act can be seen in Dubai tomorrow. And then it’s back home to wait and see what this lengthy mission yields.