Thursday 23 February 2017

Driven Enda easily shifts gears in trio of meetings

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny had to shift gears in London yesterday while trying to fix our broken "economic engine".

He had three very different experiences in three different locations -- the traditional home of Irish emigrants in Cricklewood, the ultra-modern headquarters of financial news agency Bloomberg and Number 10 Downing Street.

Mr Kenny found it easy to go into empathetic mode in the Cricklewood Homeless Concern, where several emigrants from his native Mayo were waiting to meet him. He chatted easily to Joe Gilligan (75) from Castlebar, who told him that he was getting a new stg£1,000 (€1,140) kitchen installed in his house.

"Will I call for grub?" asked Enda, who was told that he could call for the "housewarmer".

The centre was rebuilt three years ago with funds from the Government and free labour from many of the famous Irish building firms in London.

But those enjoying tea and custard cream biscuits in its meeting room yesterday talked about how so many of the builders who arrived in the 1950s were either dead or in poor health.

Mr Kenny then had to change gear for his visit to the London headquarters of Bloomberg. He took to the stage to tell around 150 "key opinion formers" from business and banking that he wanted to fix the parts of Ireland's economic engine.

"The fuel of confidence that we can supply to our people will bring about a resurgence of growth, a resurgence of spending capacity, a resurgence of employment and job creation," he said.

Instead of tea and biscuits, there were laptops and BlackBerrys and the atmosphere in the purple-painted auditorium was far cooler. But Mr Kenny was comfortable during his 35-minute economic speech and his 13-minute question-and-answer session.

Mr Kenny would have been aware that former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan had spoken in the same room two years earlier -- and of the danger of over-revving the Irish economic engine. He told them that he was facing the biggest challenge of any Taoiseach in history -- but also had the biggest mandate to take action.

He told a young Irish graduate that he wanted to get growth going to create jobs in the country again and also ensure that people were not "taxed out of existence".

Mr Kenny shifted into diplomatic gear for his final engagement of the visit -- his first official meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron. He emerged from Number 10 Downing Street in relaxed form -- and hopped into a silver Mercedes with a perfectly working engine to get to the airport.

Irish Independent

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