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Eveready Enda powered up by his love of rollercoasters

ONE would think that Enda would fancy a weekend of chilling out after the week he just had, what with launching a verbal fusillade at the Vatican which was heard around the world and then following that up by bringing home the bacon from the EU summit (though in truth that success was brought about by the exorbitant Greeks rather than the Taoiseach's superhuman powers of persuasion).

But no. Instead, our battery-powered Taoiseach, Eveready Enda took himself to Glenties in Donegal last night to deliver the opening keynote address of the MacGill summer school.

The theme of this year's talkfest is 'Transforming Ireland 2011-2016', so it was entirely appropriate that Enda should deliver the opening speech, given the ground-breaking and transformational content of that extraordinary address in the Dail last Wednesday.

And so, unsurprisingly, the hall of the Highland Hotel was stuffed by the time the Taoiseach arrived onstage shortly before 9pm. After all, this was the speech after the speech before. Who would feel the lash of the Taoiseach's tongue this time out?

He referred to the reaction to his landmark speech in which he launched his massive broadside at the Catholic hierarchy .

"The numbers of clergy who have been in touch in the last few days has astounded me," he said.

"I like to think that part of what we do in government is create an environment where the innocence of children can be learned naturally through their formative years and that when they grow up and grow old, they'll look back with a sense of pride."

Laughter

And he was still on a high after the successful EU summit last Thursday, giving the crowd insight into what high-stakes political poker games are like.

"I don't know if any of you know what it's like to be the Taoiseach and walk into the room of 17 leaders or the room of 27 leaders and make your case for your country.

"Anyone who follows me into his job, I'd advise them not to drink too much water before they go to the negotiations, for if you leave you'll be down a few billion by the time you get back," he explained to laughter.

On a more serious note, he said he was "very happy with the Eurozone meeting".

"There was a palpable sense from the leaders that here was an example of a government and a people facing up to a series of unprecedented challenges".

And he referred to the forthcoming comprehensive spending review, which will shape the forthcoming Budget.

"It will give us a clearer view as to what programmes have to be shafted, what programmes are to be maintained and what programmes will be increased.

"We will tell the people that so that they will know, they can plan in advance what it is they're going to have to do."

And sounding like Bette Davis in 'All About Eve' when she purred, "Fasten your seat belts, it's gonna be a bumpy night," Enda put the frighteners on everyone by vowing all sorts of fun and games in September.

"I think it will be one of the most hectic Dail sessions in living memory, because we are going to have one hell of a roller-coaster here," he predicted.

Among those listening attentively was British ambassador Julian King, who had performed the official opening just before the Taoiseach's speech.

The six-day summer school - now in its 31st year -- has become a sort of unofficial finale to the political year, and the discussion panels this year represent a smorgasbord of economists and politicians.

Among the guests are the Financial Regulator, Matthew Elderfield, economist Colm McCarthy and David Hodgkinson, executive chairman of AIB.

And the list of politicians making the pilgrimage are Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, Health Minister James Reilly and Enterprise and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and also Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. Enda was rewarded with a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

Sure isn't he on the top of the roller-coaster himself, just waiting for that bumpy night?

Irish Independent