Insipid Enda Left Nothing to Linger in the Memory; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt


STATE of the Nation speeches tend to be made in a time of crisis. They are a warning shot, used to prepare the ground for tough times ahead. They are deployed to convince voters that short-term pain can lead to long-term reward.

Jack Lynch's commitment that the Government 'could no longer stand by' in 1969 over the worsening violence in the North was a memorable speech.

In 1980, Charles Haughey told the public we were living 'way beyond our means' in a broadcast indelibly stamped on the public memory.

But can anyone remember a key line from Enda Kenny's first State of the Nation address in 2011, or a stand-out phrase from last night? There was no ultimate soundbite.

No clear conviction that the nation is through the worst of the crisis. No sense among the carefully crafted 941 words that we are back in control of our own destiny.

So why did Enda Kenny resort to a formal national broadcast to get his point across on this occasion? If his last State of the Nation was meant as an 'introduction to austerity' as he locked the country into three more years of fiscal penury, then perhaps this was the parole board hearing.

But why not take the credit for sending the Troika packing? Staring down the barrel of a camera is unnerving for people on both sides of the screen and it does not stimulate confidence among those you address.

OF course the need to control the message is a high priority for those around Enda Kenny. They are the ones around him who cringe when he is pummelling kidneys, handing-out high-fives and picking-up toddlers for a photo opportunity.

The fact is, he's good at that stuff. Believe it or not, he's funny and sharp-witted in real life.

But the personable side of the Taoiseach does not come across when he is reading from autocue in the staid set-up of his office in Government Buildings.

After years of avoiding live debates and shying away from setpiece interviews, it is unclear whether this is a personal choice or a political strategy. …