Taoiseach’s rejection of Abbott video makes Australian headlines

‘I’ve heard the prime minister’s comments,’ said Kenny. ‘He made them. I don’t agree with that’

If Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is aware of the Taoiseach's displeased response to the former's St Patrick's Day message, he has not let it stop him.

Mr Abbott, who previously said the last Labor government "was a bit like the Irishman who lost 10 pounds betting on the Grand National and then lost 20 pounds on the action replay", today used parliamentary question time to accuse opposition leader Bill Shorten of going off the point. "Sounds a bit like an Irish joke," he told Mr Shorten.

The Irish Embassy in Canberra complained about the previous joke.

In a video made for St Patrick’s Day events in Australia last week, Mr Abbott said he could not make it to the functions but would have liked “to share a Guinness or two or maybe even three”.


Speaking during his visit to the US on Monday, Enda Kenny said "there has been a long-term view of a stage-Irish perception. I reject that".

“I’ve heard the prime minister’s comments,” said Mr Kenny. “He made them. I don’t agree with that. I think that it is perfectly in order for so many Irish people in Australia to have an enjoyable celebration of St Patrick’s Day and St Patrick’s week, and to do so in a thoroughly responsible fashion.”

The Taoiseach’s response was widely reported in Australia and has become the number one most read story on Fairfax media’s Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane websites.

The story was also reported on the websites of the country’s two national newspapers, the Australian and the Financial Review, and on radio and television.

Defence minister Kevin Andrews also caused outrage on Twitter after he tweeted a picture of himself holding a can of Guinness on Tuesday morning, with the caption: "Too early? Happy St Patrick's Day!"

A woman called Lizzie O’Shea replied to the Tweet, saying: “As an Irish person I reject you and your gross politics.”

Her message was followed by a man called John Patrick Cronin who said “Guinness could not do much more damage to Mr Andrews’ political nous or his galloping Abbottitis”.

When asked at a press conference whether Irish Ambassador Noel White had complained about Mr Abbott’s video, foreign minister Julie Bishop replied:

“I have not had the Irish Ambassador complain about a conspicuous consumption of alcohol.”

Mr White was in the parliament's visitor's gallery today, alongside Fine Gael Minister of State Tom Hayes.

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins a contributor to The Irish Times based in Sydney