Sunday 28 December 2014

'Rock star' Kenny a big hit in Germany as he opens store

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

Enda Kenny opens new Primark store in Berlin
Enda Kenny opens new Primark store in Berlin

IT is often cruelly said that politics is showbiz for ugly people.

But our beloved leader Enda Kenny came the closest he has been to being greeted like a pop idol yesterday as he was caught in the eye of 'Primania'.

What is Primania? It is a recent phenomenon diagnosed by German doctors whereby normally rational and sane Berliners become entranced and fall hopelessly in love with Primark (Penneys' international moniker).

Enda was in the old East side of Berlin to open a new Penneys store, and bizarrely, the Berliners couldn't get enough of it all.

A good hour before Mr Kenny swept into the room, staff members and volunteers began screaming and chanting their company's name with a passion and verve normally seen on football terraces.

It was akin to a political rally and the intensity rose with each passing minute.

But there was a shadow over the event. While the vast majority were happy to see the Irish store open, fair trade protesters came to make their unhappiness known about Primark's transparency and openness about where it sources its goods from.

Company spokespeople were happy to talk about the opening but would not be drawn on the protests.

"No nasty questions, this is a good day," went the mantra.

Those voicing their displeasure at the front of the store were kept well back while only one or two came within earshot of the Taoiseach as he arrived in the back door.

"Primark does not become you, Enda," said one as he made his way inside.

Enda himself later in the day said he had raised the issue of Primark's ethical standards, stating clearly that while they may be good boys now, they might not always have been.

"I might say this that I raised the question of ethical standards with the operators of Primark," he said. But as he approached the podium, the cheers grew louder and louder and louder still.

It was full-on pandemonium and was more fitting for One Direction than a political leader.

Primark director Breege O'Donoghue gave what Enda later called "a rock-star performance" delivering a tour de force in fluent German as she introduced him.

Unfortunately Enda couldn't stay long and the short flirtation with rock stardom had to come to an end.

Moments later, the same Enda was inspecting one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall before his chat with Europe's governess, Angela Merkel.

Any meeting with Europe's most powerful politician is significant, but Enda isn't quite well in enough to get the invite to her weekend home to meet her low-profile husband.

Only big guns, like the rebellious David Cameron, get that special treatment.

A half-hour chat in a hotel room is what we get and a few kind words from Angela. A reflection of the fact that we have 'no actual influence' in Europe, as one government figure let slip. But no doubt Enda left Berlin with a spring in his step and a smile on his face after his morning of playing the rock star.

Irish Independent

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