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Taoiseach accepts his Euro award - on our behalf


THERE was an anxious moment when Enda took a hold of his lovely shiny gong, the winged Golden Victory statuette.

If he dropped this seriously hefty yoke on his toe, there'd be no nipping up Croagh Patrick for the foreseeable future.

Last month, the German Magazine Publishers Association (VDZ) decided to award its annual European of the Year gong to our Taoiseach and to us, the plain people of Ireland.

But since we all couldn't fit on the government jet, Enda headed over to Berlin to collect it on our behalf.

Perhaps Enda had 'Berlin' written on the cuff of his shirt-sleeve just to remind him where he was, because he'd had quite a day before he rolled up at the Telecom building in the German capital yesterday evening.

He had begun his day by flying to Budapest for a meeting with Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, before he then waltzed over to Vienna for a pow-wow with Austria's Chancellor, Werner Faymann.

However, he didn't look a bit flustered when he strolled onstage to receive his award. Before the presentation, a short film of Ireland had been shown, in which there was a special shout-out for the Irish fans who went to Poland for the Euro finals: "They kept singing, even though their team lost every match," said the voice-over in wonderment as the audience was treated to a quick burst of 'The Fields of Athenry'.


Then there was a tribute to the Taoiseach from last year's winner of European of the Year, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk. "The Poles love the Irish," he said, before praising Enda for "avoiding demagoguery". (Enda often also avoids straight answers, but then Donald has never sat through a Leader's Questions).

Then the Taoiseach was called to the stage to accept his Golden Victory. Or rather, OUR gong, as the citation noted "the 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".

They aren't kidding. (Maybe they can all have a word with Angela Merkel about that). In his speech, Enda heaped praise on our put-upon heads.

"Words do not exist to describe their courage, their dignity, their generosity in how they have faced and are now facing-down such difficulties," he said.

The audience even broke into applause when Enda assured them: "We're determined to exit the EU-IMF programme on schedule next year."

It may have been approval, or it may have been relief that Ireland's begging-bowl will be taken off the groaning EU table.

Then he headed back to Dublin, where the kerfuffle over the Supreme Court decision on the children's referendum awaited.

Someone might be getting a skelp from a Golden Victory, if they don't watch out.

Irish Independent