News Thomas Molloy

Sunday 21 September 2014

Everyone loves a good Irish comeback story

Published 24/01/2014 | 02:30

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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso listens to Enda Kenny in Davos
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso listens to Enda Kenny in Davos

ENDA Kenny and Michael Noonan were flying the flag energetically as they blitzed dozens of chief executives as well as figures such as Bank of England governor Mark Carney and US treasury secretary Jack Lew.

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The two men have a good tale to tell. Ireland has left the bailout without a hiccup, Moody's loves us again and Irish borrowing costs are lower than they were during the boom.

While Enda Kenny met CEOs, Michael Noonan hit the airwaves, talking to CNBC and Bloomberg before the two of them teamed up with Bono for yet more glad-handling at an IDA shindig.

It was a bravura performance from a country that had so recently believed itself in the gutter. Perhaps the starkest sign of this new belief in Ireland could be seen in the questions from the floor after the Taoiseach appeared in a panel discussion with several other luminaries.

The first question asked whether other countries could follow Ireland's lead when it came to competitiveness, while the second question wondered which areas of French life most needed to move at an Irish pace?

The Taoiseach didn't crow and his responses were carefully nuanced (unlike at least one previous performance in the very same room) but the euphoria from the floor was a stark reminder of how difficult it is to peddle a realistic story about Ireland these days which might just secure some sort of deal on our onerous debt burden.

We may still be deep in the woods but there can be little doubt that some of the world's most powerful, sophisticated and influential people have bought into the idea of Ireland's recovery with a vengeance.

Any good public relations executive will tell a client that the public is bored by good news but loves a tale of failure and redemption. Nigella Lawson is only the latest in a long line of celebrities and politicians who have sinned only to find the true path to righteousness and renewed adulation. Now it seems countries can follow the same path in just a few short years.

Irish Independent

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