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Turning into a Taoiseach before our very eyes

It's no wonder Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is turning into a Taoiseach before our eyes -- he's getting guidance from the powers-that-be in Europe.

Mr Kenny's trip to Berlin this week to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel was dismissed by opponents as a photo opportunity.

And, in essence, it probably was. But it was another part of preparing Mr Kenny for power.

Late last month, he went to Brussels to meet European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. Mr Barroso opened the meeting by giving a piece of advice: everything you say and do during the election campaign will land on my desk and desks across Europe, including Angela Merkel's, Olli Rehn's and Nicolas Sarkozy's.

Hence, there has been no battlecry from Fine Gael like Eamon Gilmore's: "It's Frankfurt's way or Labour's way."

That would have raised eyebrows in European capitals.

Ms Merkel is tuned into Irish feeling towards Germany's role in the EU-IMF bailout and of her standing among the public here. But Mr Kenny told her Ireland was willing "to pay its way and play its part" and FG has toned down its angry rhetoric on the banks in the last few weeks.

The statesman-like trips, coupled with the FG surge, have led to a change in attitude towards Mr Kenny among press and public.

Questions to him are now more respectful as he assumes the mantle of Taoiseach, and even taxi men beeped their horns at him in Dublin city centre last weekend.

If Merkel and Barroso are treating him as Taoiseach, it's just as important that cabbies do too.

Fiach Kelly

Political Correspondent

Indo Review