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Lise Hand: And so the first chapter closes, with us already weary of the read

Stately Buck Kenny came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of blather on which a 'to-do' list lay crossed-off. A mellow Tanaiste was sustained gently behind him on the mild afternoon air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: "There are no quick fixes. No cheap bailouts. No easy road ahead."

How nice for the Taoiseach and Tanaiste that their 100th day in office happened to fall on the anniversary of one of the most famous strolls in literature, Leopold Bloom's meandering perambulation around Dublin.

While the pair didn't don straw boaters and hold a press conference by the shores of the snot-green sea, Enda and Eamon were eager to give the assembled media a guided walk through carefully selected highlights of the first three months of their relationship -- one that, if it isn't exactly a shotgun marriage, is certainly a marriage of convenience.

How precisely this First 100 Days lark became quite such a big deal is a bit of a puzzler. But there's no doubt that during the election campaign, both Enda and Eamon were full of yak about all the mighty stuff they would achieve in this magic time-frame if given the thumbs-up by the voters.

Now in fairness, the self-same enraged electorate might have voted in the boys and their respective teams even if Enda had pledged to introduce Prohibition and put Peig back on the school curriculum (the horror), so eager was the citizenry to see the back of the last government, but such promises have a habit of returning to haunt one.

Still, Buck Kenny and Labour Leopold swept down the long staircase in Government Buildings yesterday afternoon to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and talk up their litany of achievements in a stream of self-consciousness.

The Taoiseach went first. They had launched the Jobs Initiative (which had been originally hailed as a full-on Jobs Budget, but never mind); they had announced a total overhaul of the banking system (though it's still banjaxed 100 days on, but here's hoping), and they have cut VAT rates.

And what about that blasted bailout? Enda tiptoed gingerly through this vortex of shark-infested water that has already lured an unwary politician or two into perdition.

"We've started to fulfil our promise to improve the term," he hedged.

So that's the promise of a promise then. Oh well, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, one supposes.

But then Buck Kenny decided to eat with relish the inner organs of Brussels beasts and French fowl.

"This is a financial crisis. It's not a socio-political experiment to see how far the Irish people can be pushed, how much they can take," he declared, in a clear reference to Sarko's shenanigans in blocking any move to give the Paddies a bit of a break.

"Consequently, European leaders must lead, must put aside their domestic political agendas and, at this crucial juncture, support countries who are working towards recovery," he added pointedly.

While he was speaking, Eamon studiously gazed at him. No fool he. Such a pose ensured that there would be no sneaky shots of the Tanaiste doing eye-rolls, or sporting mischief-making expressions of ennui or crankiness.

And Eamon was equally gung-ho. The Government had restored the minimum wage, reduced their own salaries and introduced legislation to curb corporate donations, he pointed out.

But sure 100 days was no time, really.

"We are only three months into our first term of office," he reminded everyone. "There is a long, hard road yet to travel," he added sombrely.

Enda had remembered the day that was in it, and even had a quote from 'Ulysses' at the ready.

"Joyce wrote that 'nations have their ego, just like individuals'," he said.

Indeed, but just look at where a mass national outbreak of rampant ego landed us -- up to our nutty gizzards in debt, that's where.

Meanwhile, Micheal Martin was on the plinth of Leinster House, giving his opinion on the government's first 100 days.

"One would have to say objectively that the performance of the government has been somewhat underwhelming," he reckoned.

Sadly for Micheal, his pronouncements were all but drowned out by a small posse of protesters outside the gates who were clad in Edwardian garb and who had rather magnificently arrived in two horse-drawn carriages.

Even their placards borrowed from Ulysses: 'Bondholders go to Blazes' and 'Molly Says No to the IMF'.

Maybe Enda should bring a copy of the book to Brussels next week and present it to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Who knows -- perhaps the pocket-sized Prez may be a Joycean, so when Buck Kenny pesters him to allow a reduction in our bailout interest rates, Sarko will reply, "Yes I said yes I will Yes" ...

Irish Independent