Tuesday 21 May 2019

DC's finest take no chances with Citizen No. Enda

President Obama walks with, from left, House Speaker John Boehner, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Rep. Peter King, on Capitol Hill. Photo: AP
President Obama walks with, from left, House Speaker John Boehner, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Rep. Peter King, on Capitol Hill. Photo: AP

TO say that the Americans are diligent in the task of guarding our Taoiseach is a serious understatement. Enda may be used to strolling along Merrion Square from his digs to the office every morning in the company of no more than a couple of detectives, but in the US it's a different matter entirely.

While in DC this week, he travelled with full sirens, bells and whistles, minded by a detail of about 16 official minders. And at the head of this posse is the tall personage of the only Irish-born cop in Washington DC's 4,500-strong force, Roscrea man Mark Kirwan.

And when not making sure that noone gets thick with our various Taoisigh, Mark is also the proprietor of Samuel Beckett's public house in the Washington suburb of Arlington. And, by coincidence, his hostelry will be hosting the Taoiseach and his entourage this morning to cheer on BOD and the lads in Paris.

But Enda won't have the luxury of watching another crunch fixture while in the US. For on St Patrick's Day, the All Ireland Club Final takes place in Croker, where mighty Dublin club St Vincent's take on the Castlebar Mitchels, who beat Dr Crokes to reach the final.

While Enda himself lined out for Islandeady GAA, his father Henry played for Castlebar Mitchels. Under normal circumstances, our Taoiseach would be in Croke Park like a shot for the showdown on Monday. But unfortunately, Enda has another small engagement at the same time that the match starts. He will be marching in the St Patrick's Day parade in New York.

Plenty of green (shoots) on show

If ever there was proof required that America – or Irish America at the very least – is beginning to emerge blinking from the smoking rubble of the recent recession, then it was provided at the American Ireland Fund black-tie bash in Washington DC on Thursday, where there were more green shoots than could be found in the Botanic Gardens.

Almost 800 guests piled into the Ronald Reagan Centre for the black-tie bun fight, which was selling tickets for a Celtic Tiger-esque $1,000 (€720) a head. So understandably, there was applause when American Ireland chief Kieran McLoughlin announced that the night had raised $1m for Irish charities.

In a city where many of the black-tie evening bashes are serious networking affairs, this was a jolly event, made all the jollier by the speech of former US Senator Chris Dodd, who was introducing the guest of honour, his buddy, US vice-president Joe Biden.

Chris got the hell out of Dodge and moved to Hollywood, where he heads up the Motion Picture Association of America – an organisation that is probably more powerful than Congress.

Paying tribute to his friend the VP, Chris joked that their lives had taken very different paths, with one of them working in a place filled with "outrageous behaviour, runaway budgets and outsized egos . . . and I went to Hollywood".

It's the same speech, different day from Enda

The Taoiseach has a tendency to develop a gra for a certain phrase, metaphor, acronym or parable that will then be taken out for regular airings as he hits the speech circuit, whether on a campaign, or on international duty.

Enda's on form on his US tour. Several times during the round of speeches delivered at various events in the US capital, two favourites were vying for first place. One is Enda's 'Four Cs' – "Ireland's message is contained in the 4 Cs: conviction, clarity, courage and consistency," he declared to a series of audiences.

The other fave phrase was the story of Mayor Bloomberg's teapot, with Enda recounting more than once how he presented New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, pictured, with a traditional 'Emigrant's Teapot', telling him it was an iconic image of emigrant Ireland – "It may be a fragile object, but the hands that used these teapots were the same hands that built the skyscrapers, docks and railway lines of this great country."

Irish Independent

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