Sunday 17 November 2019

Clinton stretches his legs – but poor Enda's left kicking his heels

Joyce Fegan

Perhaps the Taoiseach felt a pang of empathy with the posse of chilly media people standing resig- nedly at the bottom of the steps, watching the gates of Government Buildings.

For this posse is usually waiting for him, the perennially late Enda Kenny.

But this evening it was his turn to cool his heels (literally) on his own office doorstep for around 20 minutes, waiting for a guest to show up. Probably he would've headed back indoors in a bit of a snit, if his visitor had been any less a personage than a former US president.

But wait he did, and finally Bill Clinton appeared through the entrance, accompanied by a very modest entourage of nine staff and security. Dressed in dark trousers, light grey jacket and purple shirt and tie and sporting a wide smile, Bill greeted the Taoiseach: "I just walked across the street, and it was great," he happily told Enda.

And he had indeed used Shank's Mare instead of some class of armoured limo to make the short hop from the Merrion Hotel – but in the insanely vigilant security bubble-world which surrounds any former or current American president, this was akin to the freedom of a lion roaming the plains of the Serengeti.

The pair posed for photos at the top of the steps, before disappearing inside for a meeting. As they turned to leave without saying a word, Enda piped up. "He said that he enjoyed walking across the street," the Taoiseach said helpfully to the media. The former president was in Dublin last night, before heading to the North this morning for a series of engagements, including delivering a speech in Derry later today in which he will honour the peacekeeping work of John Hume.

At least Enda got to sniff the air while he was waiting for Bill Clinton, for he had put in a very busy day, beginning with a short press conference on the very same set of steps at noon, when he and Eamon Gilmore unveiled an assessment of the Coalition's progress over the past year. The pair were largely pleased with themselves, and in fact, had organised a three-day Dail discussion on the very same subject this week.

But not everyone was so enamoured. Micheal Martin was not a happy camper. The Fianna Fail leader was hopping mad that the Order of Business had been hustled off the Dail schedule in order to make way for the grandly-titled Statements on the Government's Priorities for the Year Ahead, otherwise known as a prolonged trumpet concerto which would bring tears of envy to the eyes of Joseph Haydn.

He described the whole notion as "a farce – the idea the Dail should have to spend three days backslapping the Government is a farce and ridiculous", he lamented.

Likewise, Richard Boyd Barrett went to town on Enda and Eamon's speeches. "Let me summarise the Taoiseach and Tanaiste's speech – blah, blah, blah, blah, mumble, mumble – success, what a load of bullshit," he snorted. Tut-tut, Richard. A bit of respect, please. Don't you know that Enda has (tardy) friends in high places?

Irish Independent

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