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Lise Hand: 'We'll get through this' - Enda's all sunny side up on his UK trip

Enda Kenny's response to the question was so speedy that a muffled sonic boom could be heard over the roof of the Reuters building in Canary Wharf.

"Yes I do," he replied crisply. He had been asked if he ruled out the notion of Ireland having to return with well-worn cap-in-hand to the IMF overlords in search of a second bailout -- a grim possibility mooted earlier by Willem Buiter, the chief economist of Citigroup Inc.

But the Taoiseach, who was on a mission to preach positivity throughout his whistle-stop tour of London yesterday, begged to differ. "I don't share that view at all," he replied. "We are in a programme for two years and are meeting the targets and commitments," he said.

"My genuine belief is that if we can get through the eurozone crisis from a political point of view, there are a lot of engines that will drive our economy".

Nor was he entertaining the equally ghastly vista of any necessity of introducing a second budget this year if the economic outlook grows gloomier.

"We believe that we will achieve our targets and that we will not require a second budget, while some economic commentators have a higher growth rate or lower growth rate we believe we can meet our targets," he declared.

The Taoiseach was in London yesterday for a series of engagements, including a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street, and he was determined to accentuate the positive and eliminate much of the negative chatter about his battered country.

He began the day with a speech and a question-and-answer session at the Thomson Reuters headquarters. Moderator and Reuters anchor Axel Threlfall introduced him by quoting a description given by Enda's wife, Fionnuala. "In the words of his wife, he doesn't do stress, he doesn't do worry, he has a very sunny disposition, he's never contrary and he takes that completely for granted," he told the audience.

And Enda had arrived with his sunny side up, and gave an upbeat assessment of Ireland's prospects, and was careful to distance us from the increasingly perilous situation of our euro brothers-in-bailout, Greece.

"We have never looked for a debt write-down, we pay our way in full and on time. We've continually sought through technical discussions to reduce the impact of the financial circumstances we find ourselves in," he said.

However, he was a little more circumspect about stating when Ireland would be ready to tip its toe back into the shark-infested waters of the international bond markets. "We want to get back to the foreign markets as quickly as possible. Our programme runs for the next two years and we would like to see a tentative return to the markets in some form or other by the end of next year," he said cagily.

Then it was off to 10 Downing Street and a pow-wow with David Cameron, who greeted Enda warmly at the glossy black door of Number 10.

And the positivity continued. After the meeting, Optimistic Enda emerged and hailed their chat as "very cordial, very friendly -- it's actually a fact that no new year has started with a better relationship between Ireland and Britain".

And he stressed this relationship would get even cosier this year, with the pair planning to co-operate on a growth strategy to bring to the EU when (or if) the dust settles on the euro crisis.

"Firstly we agreed to meet again in respect of closer economic ties and a demonstration of that in the time ahead. Clearly trade between Ireland and Britain is absolutely fundamental to both countries for job opportunities in the area of food, in the area of energy, in the area of fashion and so on. We're going to meet again in respect of closer ties in that regard," he emphasised.

"In regard to the single market, that we would work on a series of ideas about putting growth central to the decisions Europe takes," he declared, brimming with enthusiasm.

However, one issue in which he admitted that they weren't in accord was over murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Last November, the Taoiseach called for a full, independent enquiry into the case, but the British government ruled that out and Mr Cameron ordered a review of the 1989 murder, the results of which are due to be published today.

'I've a different opinion than the prime minister with regard to Finucane, I don't know what the outcome of what that review will be. But I made my case again as before," he said.

Afterwards, Enda attended a lunch at the Irish embassy with 30 guests, including British Airways chief Willie Walsh and Bob Geldof, before travelling to the Irish centre in Luton.

It looks as if Enda's new year's resolution is to banish the doomsayers of every stripe -- including pinstripe -- who wail that we're all off to hell in a handcart.

"By nature I'm an optimist, I refuse to get drawn into the trenches of disillusionment and despair," he declared during his Reuters address.

Fighting talk, Enda. But war is hell.

Irish Independent