If there is a lesson to be taken from Enda Kenny's electoral triumph it is that one of the most critical virtues any politician can have is resilience. No other leader has been written off as regularly or comprehensively, but the Fine Gael leader is, if nothing else, what they call in the horse-racing industry a 'stayer'.
owever, whilst Mr Kenny can take great pride in how his resilience has secured a revival in his party's fortunes that surpasses the achievements of de Valera, our not-so-new Taoiseach will need all of that resilience over the coming weeks.
It is not excessive to state that politics is now on trial within this state. On Friday an enraged electorate signed and enforced the political death warrant on Fianna Fail. But, whilst FG, and Labour to a far lesser extent, are today's cocks of the walk, the voters, having gotten a taste for blood, will put their necks on the chopping block just as speedily if they fail.
The voters' anger which so far, thankfully, has not directed them towards the rough slouching beast of Sinn Fein, is justifiable, for the first Republic is dead and there is no sign of any phoenix-like revival. Instead, the vast carelessness of FF, the PDs and our top civil servants and mandarins means our vassal state is facing into decades of paying reparations to the Germanic EU/IMF axis of bankers.
Mr Kenny rules, if that is the appropriate word, a country that is being ruined by a scorched earth of debt. Our Taoiseach-in-waiting is going to have to move quickly to end the scenario where the dwindling resources of private citizens are being cannibalised to meet the demands of Ms Merkel and our public-sector Petains, who would destroy the State to retain their privilege days.
Our problems, however, are not merely confined to the banks. Older readers might recall that the draconian concept of 'zero tolerance' was the central theme of the 1997 general election. The regular sightings of heroin addicts chasing the dragon, yards from the shuttered doors of garda stations full of officers busy at their paperwork, is only one example of the moral dereliction that has afflicted the concept of public service in Ireland.
But even as academics loot the public purse, in a manner that would shame any dishonest toiler in the black economy, and hospital consultants hold the taxpayers to ransom, we should not despair. The list of things within our current tempest that we cannot control is long. But Mr Kenny can, at least in terms of how the State is governed, begin to get our own house in order. Mr Gilmore will, if he has sense, help rather than hinder this project.
The debts of the banks may in the long, and possibly even the short run, be unsustainable but if we show a will to reform that which we can reform; then when it comes to some future form of debt forgiveness we will acquire some much-needed moral authority.
In their campaign FG promised that they would begin to transform the State within a hundred days. The FG leader, however, does not even have the luxury of such an elongated timespan. Instead, our attitude towards his rule will be defined by how he reacts to the challenges posed by today's results. Swift decisiveness is required, Mr Kenny, for we no longer have the time nor the patience for prolonged political apprenticeships.