Sunday 23 November 2014

Banjaxed planes and trains but Enda enjoys road to recovery

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny at the official opening of the Ballaghaderreen By Pass in Co. Roscommon yesterday. Photo: Mick McCormack.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny at the official opening of the Ballaghaderreen By Pass in Co. Roscommon yesterday. Photo: Mick McCormack.

There was a whiff in the Roscommon air. It was a barely-remembered scent of fresh tarmacadam, crisp banknotes and the damp earthy smell of just-disinterred Tiger of a certain stripe.

It was all planes (bad), trains (let's not mention the ongoing war) and automobiles (good) for Enda.

The Taoiseach was opening a road - not the vast blacktopped expanse of a boomtime motorway, mind - but a more modest 14km stretch which bypasses the town of Ballaghaderreen along the long, winding N5 road between East and West.

And what's more, while Enda was busily snipping the ribbon his Finance Minister was preparing to announce that the latest tax returns. Our ship has not only come in, but is festooned with bunting and laden down with booty.

No wonder the Taoiseach was in chipper form. And what's more, this new bypass is on his own route home from Dublin to Castlebar, and he explained to the large crowd of locals, including Roscommon TDs Frank Feighan and Denis Naughten and Mayo's John O'Mahony, that he had long resolved to fix this bottleneck if he ever had the chance.

"I won't be stuck behind tractors anymore here," he joked.

During the speeches to mark the new bypass, there was even a declaration that Ireland has performed that 45-degree manouevre (turned a corner).

Of course it wasn't the Taoiseach who uttered the phrase, but one of the other speakers - Enda would rather lie down in the middle of the new section of highway during rush-hour than risk road-testing such a pronouncement on an electorate who are sick to their collective back gnashers with austerity.

Instead, he gravely announced that the corks were firmly staying in the bottles of bubbly. "We're not in a position to write endless cheques."

Ah, but he may have to write a cheque with lots of zeroes if the government decide to fork out for a new jet to replace the poor plane currently banjaxed in America.

Enda tried to walk the tightrope along this decidedly First World problem. "Let me be very clear on this - the government is not going to lose the run of itself," he said. Things might be getting boomier, but the Taoiseach isn't rushing off to replace his hair-shirt with a Charvet shirt. He was on the N5, not the Road to Damascus, after all.

Irish Independent

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