Joan stays in shadows as Enda rings the recovery bell
'IRELAND?" squawked a business broadcaster from CNBC as he assessed our economic prospects from his shoebox booth on the Wall Street trading floor. "Like the banshee?!"
There were no banshees to be seen or heard at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, but the most vocal female member of Government was floating around Wall Street.
Not that Joan Burton, in New York for her St Patrick's Day trip, teamed up with His Excellency Enda Kenny, as the welcome signs called him, to slap a few traders' backs.
The Taoiseach and Joan both visited Wall Street for Ireland Day at the NYSE, and tried to drum up investment among the Masters of the Universe and assorted Irish businessmen like Denis O'Brien, Tony O'Reilly, Martin Kelly of Elan and Paul Connolly of Credit Suisse.
But while the Taoiseach, flanked by the great and the good, rang the bell to open trading, Joan stayed in the background. She and Enda weren't seen together at all.
No such problems with Fine Gael Wexford senator Michael D'Arcy, who performed a masterclass in political 'doughnutting' by sneaking on to the platform while the Taoiseach rang the bell, even though he wasn't on the official list.
Joan hasn't been the most popular person at Cabinet of late, after she linked a deal on Anglo-Irish promissory notes to the fiscal compact referendum.
At the weekend, she also said ministers had settled on two windows for the referendum, both in early summer and timed to avoid Euro 2012 and the Eucharistic Congress.
So what does the Taoiseach think of Joan's latest wail? We expected a proper answer on when the poll would be held, since Enda earlier quoted Abraham Lincoln's "if you tell people the truth, the country is in safe hands". Enda enunciated similar words on the day of last year's election count, but "Paddy likes to know what the story is" hasn't got the same ring to it.
So, the referendum, Taoiseach?
"Well, Government will decide this. The Government will assess this very shortly and make its decision. And as soon as we do that, as a Government, we will announce it immediately to the people."
And the property tax -- when is that coming?
"The specialist group set up by the Minister for the Environment hasn't reported yet. Obviously when that report comes, the Government will assess whatever the recommendations in those findings are and Government will make its decision."
Not very Lincolnesque answers. But Enda is picking up some things during his US trip. He called Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama "awesome" and is letting his hokey side rip.
Example: at a lunch in Washington yesterday, he said he should bring the NYSE bell around with him everywhere "to tell the world loudly and clearly that now is the time to invest in Ireland's recovery".
Shucks, no folk out there do folksy like our Enda.
However, no matter how hokey or repetitive his phrases may sound to a domestic audience, his relentless pounding of the same mantras seems to be hitting home.
After all, following his quest for banshees, the CNBS squawker went on to tell his massive -- and massively influential -- TV audience that things were looking up for Ireland.
"Most people think they're headed for another double-dip recession, but I wouldn't be sure, I think that's a mistake."