Enda Kenny… A man for our Time?


The Time-Enda Kenny cover (via Time)

We must be the most misunderstood nation on earth. As if it’s not bad enough that many of our visitors think we’re a part of England or we’re battling a severe leprechaun infestation, we’re now known for one man, according to Time magazine.

Colin Farrell? Michael Fassbender? Even, God forbid, Bono?


Enda Kenny.

Yes, you heard me, Enda Kenny. Time thinks Enda is worthy of green lettering and the caption “The Celtic Comeback: Prime Minister Enda Kenny is rebuilding his country’s economy. What the rest of Europe can learn from him”.

This is probably the worst attempted analysis of our great little nation since CNBC thought that ‘Horse Outside’ was about the recession.

Unsurprisingly, the reaction here in Ireland has been scathing. Sure, we’re the best behaved of all the PIIGS, consistently meeting our bailout targets, but rebuilding? Forget it, we’re still buried deep in this mess, and will be for a long time.

Let’s first of all give credit where it is due. The Taoiseach has inherited this economic fiasco from dearest Bertie, and succeeds the worst leader had since the foundation of the state in Brian Cowen. However, it’s clear that this excuse- which is trotted out every time a Fianna Fáiler opens their mouth in the Dáil- has worn threadbare. Fine Gael and Labour have been in power for well over a year- plenty of time to take the big decisions that this country needs. But they haven’t.

What is really offensive about this Time cover is that there is no acknowledgment at all that Enda might not be universally loved in Ireland. That far from being the good little Europeans, that thousands of Irish people are suffering for mistakes they never made and a lot of them are furious.

Now, like many people without a subscription to Time (funnily, it doesn’t come along with my dole money) I haven’t read the article. Perhaps all that is mentioned. However, the writer, the magazine’s Europe editor Catherine Mayer gave an interview that doesn’t bode well.

In it, she said that Enda is not appreciated in his home country because “familiarity breeds contempt”. Eh, no. It’s because we have to live with the foolish and near-sighted decisions taken by his government. Actually, reading the interview you would have to wonder has Ms Mayer even visited the country, or opened a newspaper while she was here. All around Enda, the government is imploding. Health Minister James Reilly would have been forced to resign if he had been a two-bit congressman whose personal debt had led him appearing in the American equivalent of Stubbs’ Gazette. Labour is currently imploding. Just this morning, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald were forced to beat a hasty retreat after their car was egged in Ballyfermot. Sure, it’s not the nasty and sinister riots that have happened in Greece, but the normally placid Irish people are angry with their government.

Ms Mayer also said that Enda was far more in touch with the Irish people than a lot of other leaders in Europe. Sorry, no. More than any previous Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has an army of handlers and speechwriters planning his every move. Just because he is not surrounded by secret service goons like Barack Obama is and can attend football matches, does not make him in touch with the Irish people. Barack Obama knows what it’s like to be poor. Enda, on the other hand, like so many of our TDs, is the son of another politician, and worked as a primary teacher. It is safe to guess that, financially speaking, Enda has little experience of hardship.

While we cannot compare him to Eton-educated British PM David Cameron, there is an interesting parallel to be drawn. Despite being a very privileged Tory, Cameron tries to cultivate a more modest image- being a fan of the angsty and very working-class Smiths for example. It is hard to imagine Cameron telling a member of the public to go get a job like Enda once did. He is cannier than that.

Enda Kenny is no statesman and that’s what wrong with the Time cover. A statesman is not a person who tells unemployed people to go get non-existent jobs, or someone who sits in front of the Pope texting like a stroppy teenager. We’re not too close to see the big picture at all. Perhaps Ms Mayer and Time magazine would like another visit to Ireland, this time in the company of the ordinary Irish people.

Our glorious leader, Enda Kenny, appears on the cover of the latest issue of Time magazine. The Daily Shift‘s Roisin Peddle wonders what he’s done to get there… 

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