The real challenge for a new leader
As Enda Kenny inches closer to his stepping down as Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach, he can take some solace in the fact that he has left the country in far better shape than be found it, not least the mood of the people in terms of their personal, financial, not to mention psychological, well-being. There will be occasion again to duly acknowledge his performance in the round, but of more importance in the months and years ahead will be the performance of his successor, whomever that may be, in both capturing and channelling, for the good of society as a whole, the positive sentiment that Mr Kenny will leave behind upon his departure.
A full decade has passed since the ruinous economic and banking collapse, the effects of which are still being felt widely throughout the country, and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise. All is still far from being rosy in the garden. It would be equally wrong, however, not to acknowledge where the country is now at, which is on the cusp of the blossoming of an optimistic new generation which is chomping at the bit to get on with it. This enthusiasm and energy must be properly harnessed and allowed to develop, as it is this new generation of talented young people that will lift the country to new heights of entrepreneurial spirit and endeavour, integrity, decency and social benefit for all. They will require a new leader who will not put roadblocks in their way, who will, in fact, remove those blocks, and who will also be charged with the spirit of social good which so infuses the youth of today.
The opinion polls published in this newspaper last week and today have found burgeoning evidence that what has gone before in that most ruinous decade, and before that again, which led to the great crash, is behind us at last, if not for all, then for the many. Yes, gone, but not forgotten. Such lessons have been painfully learned. The polls have detected a spirit of optimism no greater, or certainly no less important than an undercurrent of caution that forcefully militates against the, in many instances, grotesque excesses of an age that will write its own chapter in the history of Ireland.