Germans name Kenny as 'European of the Year'
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is to receive a special award from a German business group for being a good European.
The accolade is not just for Mr Kenny but for "Ireland and the Irish people", recognising the "genuine hardship being experienced by many Irish people" under austerity policies.
The award comes just days after Mr Kenny admitted for the first time that Ireland was the only country which had a "European position imposed upon it" as there was no opportunity to burn bondholders.
Following on from his appearance on the front cover of 'Time' magazine, Mr Kenny's popularity continues to blossom on the international stage.
Mr Kenny will be awarded the 'Golden Victoria European of the Year 2012' in Berlin next month, and will be presented with a 12-inch bronze statuette depicting Nike, the Greek god of victory.
Mr Kenny is already due to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in early November to discuss preparations for Ireland's EU Presidency and the prospects of a deal on our bank debt.
Last weekend, Ms Merkel decided Ireland was a "special case" for a debt deal.
The award to Mr Kenny is being presented by the German Magazine Publishers Association (VDZ).
The association says the award acknowledges "the achievements not only of Enda Kenny but Ireland and the Irish people".
The accolade also recognises Mr Kenny's "strong contribution to Europe and commitment to European ideals" both as Taoiseach and throughout his many years in public life.
"Ireland's determined response to the current economic and financial crisis has been widely respected, particularly in view of the genuine hardship being experienced by many Irish people.
"This award, however, also acknowledges the unique contribution which Ireland has made to the European project since its accession in 1973.
"Despite being located at the western edge of the continent, the green island has always been at the heart of Europe," the VDZ said.
The VDZ represents the publishers of 6,000 magazines in Germany. Previous recipients of the award have been Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, in 2011, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in 2010.
Mr Kenny will be honoured at a ceremony in Berlin, the Publishers' Night 2012, which is described as the most important annual event for German media.
The ceremony will be attended by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Scheuble, but Ms Merkel can't make it on the night.
Next year, Ireland will assume the EU Presidency for the seventh time on the 40th anniversary of the country's membership of the EU.
"Throughout those 40 years Ireland has often played a key role in the development of Europe, including in 1990, when it presided over the European Council which endorsed the reunification of Germany," the VDZ said.
"Ireland's advancement over the last four decades of its membership offers a powerful illustration of the value of EU membership.
"In these difficult times, Europe benefits from the open, outward looking character of the Irish State and people and from the calibre of its prime minister, Enda Kenny".
Mr Kenny has not responded to the award but a government source said it was extremely significant and the publicity would help to put out a positive message about Ireland.