Friday 24 January 2020

Fiach Kelly: Around the world in less than 80 days with globe-trotting Enda

Fiach Kelly

Well, our Taoiseach, he just loves Brussels, London, Chicago, Indiana, New York, Washington, London ... and then Beijing and whatever else you're having yourself.

From snuggling up to the British lion and wrestling with the European octopus (could it be anything else?), Enda Kenny yesterday began riding the American buffalo, before he goes off to tickle the Chinese dragon next week.

Phileas Fogg made it around the world in 80 days, Enda might do it in less, especially with the advantage of the government jet.

The Taoiseach started his St Patrick's US jaunt in Chicago, attending a host of functions in a city massively gearing up for today, when the Chicago River is dyed green and the Windy City goes wild.

Sunshine Enda seems to have brought the weather with him too, with Chicagoans walking around in shorts and T-shirts to take advantage of the unseasonable warmth. (Brian Cowen was here two years ago and it rained.)

Enda was being chaperoned by city mayor Rahm Emanuel, US President Barack Obama's former enforcer and right-hand man.

Small and wiry, Mr Emanuel left his position as Mr Obama's chief of staff in October 2010 to run for mayor of his hometown, and he accompanied the Taoiseach to an Irish American Fund breakfast yesterday morning.

The room was packed with Irish Americans, Chicago politicos,and people running for one of the city's many elected offices.

"To the Taoiseach -- I want to welcome you to Chicago," Mr Emanuel said. "As everybody knows, last year on St Patrick's Day, he spent it in the White House with our president. This year, he is spending it with Alderman Burke. Here in Chicago, that's referred to as moving up in the world."

Mr Obama was in his hometown yesterday, too, on a fundraising swing for his re-election campaign. The Taoiseach will meet him in the White House next week.

Enda -- well known for being snapped atop a rothar committing crimes against multi-coloured spandex -- shares a love of cycling with Mr Emanuel, and he invited the mayor to cycle the Ring of Kerry.

Enda also plugged 'The Gathering', the Government's plan to entice members of the Irish diaspora back next year, as part of year-long celebrations.

"We're not happy with one day in the year, we want to go on with the whole shebang," he said.

That way, Enda, a bit like Bob Dylan, might get a never-ending world tour.

Irish Independent

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