High fives for the best small country in the world for monkey business
Faith and hope will no doubt be prominent themes in Enda Kenny's 'state of the nation' speech tomorrow night. It is unlikely, however, that he will mention charity. Following revelations about top-ups, rip-offs and the stuffing of cash meant for sick children into the pockets of fat-cat executives, references to the benevolence industry no longer inspire much by way of benevolent feeling.
Kenny is using the televised address to mark Ireland's exit from the EU-IMF bailout. He is expected to thank the public for their "exceptional sacrifices", and to promise that better times lie ahead. His eagerness to hail the economic light at the end of the tunnel -- encouraging people to have faith in themselves and hope for the future -- is a decent and constructive impulse. But Kenny's pep-talk will be deeply unconvincing unless it's accompanied by some blunt candour about his Government's abject failure to reform our chronically dysfunctional political culture.
Kenny's last attempt to give a where-we-stand lecture, in December 2011, was not a success. The speech itself was lacklustre, the delivery leaden. The impact of what he had to say was further confused by Kenny's then more conspicuous tendency to speak out of both sides of his mouth. "You are not responsible for the crisis," he told the Irish people during the televised address. Days later, at a high-flyers' economic summit in Davos, he retailed another version of events. Irish people, he insisted, "went mad borrowing".