Sunday 21 January 2018

Johnny Fallon: A TV address written by committee, but it will have done Enda Kenny no harm

FINALLY we got to see the Taoiseach addressing the nation last night. No one ever expected that it would change very much; no one ever suggested that it would make everything right. However, any attempt by politicians to talk directly to the people and explain their position should be welcomed. Enda Kenny deserves credit for taking this step. There is no doubt that many will criticise what he said and how he said it and that is the very reason his predecessor avoided doing it at all, but he was not scared off by this and that is something positive.

As regards content it came up a little short. Maybe this was inevitable. However, Enda Kenny has a core team of speechwriters who seem to follow a set pattern and last night it would have been nice to see them diverge from this but perhaps the pressure was so great the wanted to stick to a tried and tested route. The address had one central plank, try to say the exact opposite of everything the last government said so that we can sound different. The problem of course is that this government has been happy to follow the policies of the last government in practice and Enda Kenny knows he does not entirely disagree with some of the sentiments they expressed.

However, he was trying to put a little distance between himself and what had gone before. A few months ago Enda Kenny made a very well received speech in the Dail attacking the Vatican. However, one the glow of the fine words had faded people began to realise that that speech actually sought to shift blame well away from the island of Ireland, well away from Irish church leaders and more particularly well away from the shameful practices of the Irish state that allowed the situation develop. Attacking the Vatican made for good words, but it did nothing to address the real issues of how the Irish church leaders and more particularly the Irish state itself had failed the victims of abuse.

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