Kenny dedicates statuette to Irish

 

David Hasselhoff, please leave the stage – last night was Enda Kenny’s turn to be big in Germany. A week after his lunch with Angela, the Taoiseach was back in Berlin for a dinner date with Victoria, the Golden Victoria.

Named “European of the Year” by the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ), the Taoiseach dedicated his golden-winged statuette to the folks back home.

“Words do not exist to describe their courage, their dignity, their generosity in how they have faced and are now facing-down . . . difficulties,” Mr Kenny told an audience drawn from Germany’s publishing and political worlds.

Long before a European bailout came to Ireland, he reminded them, Irish monks had come in the other direction to bring the “light of learning to the European mind, the hope of Christianity to the European heart”.

Centuries on, Mr Kenny said,the Irish still “keep their faith in Europe”.

That faith has been challenged of late by home-made mistakes – a property boom “built on sand” – but also a legacy burden of “crushing” bank debt totalling “40 per cent – 40 per cent! – of our GDP”.

The taoiseach was “heartened” by Dr Merkel’s recognition of the “unique circumstances, our special case” and optimistic of a solution.

For Philip Rösler, the federal economics minister in the front row, Mr Kenny had a coded message, too, on Ireland’s corporate tax rate.

Ireland’s recovery depended on the ability to attract multinationals, he said, “because history deprived us of the Irish-owned, multinationals to drive that recovery, attracting high-quality foreign investment is critical for jobs for our people and for our growing population”.

Via video, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk confessed that “Poles love Ireland”.