U-turn won't help FG with voters
Published 30/12/2015 | 02:30
Fine Gael ministers have been scouring their inboxes in recent weeks looking for suitably upbeat events to latch on to in advance of the general election.
A charity gig here and a sporting occasion there - but none compare to a jobs announcement.
In fact, over the past year Taoiseach Enda Kenny has beaten a path across the country to attend such announcements.
With each one, he moved a step closer to achieving what he promised last January - that the whole country would effectively be back at work in 2018.
Some sources within Government say that such is the Taoiseach's enthusiasm for showing up when new jobs are being confirmed that it has begun to irk Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who is doing the legwork but barely getting a look-in on the big day.
So it might come as a surprise that, when the Taoiseach had a big jobs announcement of his own to make, he kept it rather low-key.
But this isn't like the jobs announcements that we've thankfully become so used to. It is bad news from a Government perspective.
After telling us that full employment could be achieved by 2018, Mr Kenny has gone back to the original 2020 target set for such an achievement.
He now believes that getting the long-term unemployed "trained up again properly and sufficiently motivated" will be more difficult than anticipated.
In 2014, the unemployment rate dropped by a full 2pc.
In January, when the Taoiseach made his 2018 proclamation, the unemployment rate stood at 10.1pc. Last month, it was down to 8.9pc.
The figures are still going in the right direction, but at a much slower pace.
The question now is why, in the space of just 11 months, Mr Kenny's position has shifted.
Either he has spotted a problem down the line or, more likely, was spreading unwarranted hope to families last January.
With an election in the offing, voters are sceptical - and this won't help.