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Yes, we can see Enda as our leader now he has won over Obama

The theme of Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade, inspired by a Roddy Doyle short story, was simply 'brilliant'.

That must also be the word echoing around Enda Kenny's head as he returns home this weekend.

By persuading Barack Obama to visit Ireland in May, the Taoiseach has scored a major political coup -- and extended his own personal honeymoon by at least a few more weeks.

We will never know why the US president said "Yes we can" this time after turning down Brian Cowen in both 2009 and 2010. Maybe he genuinely couldn't fit us into his schedule before, perhaps he wants to shore up the Irish-American vote in advance of next year's re-election campaign.



SPEECH

Either way, nobody is complaining -- because this is exactly the sort of great public event the country needed to shake us out of our national depression.

The details of Obama's trip are still under wraps. Since he will probably be here over a weekend, there may not be time to address the Dail as John F Kennedy did in 1963.

However, the greatest orator to ever enter the White House will be expected to deliver at least one big speech, preferably at some venue where the maximum number can see him.

As a young boy in Mayo, Enda Kenny listened to a record of JFK's famous inaugural address so often that he could recite it from memory.

Now he is keeping the same kind of company himself, less than a year after his own party almost dumped him.

His tenure as Taoiseach had already got off to a positive start -- but after this morale boost from the world's most charismatic politician, he really must be floating on air.

Photo-ops such as this might be superficial on one level, but they serve an important political purpose. For almost a decade, the Irish public looked at Kenny and simply could not imagine him as Taoiseach. Now the aura of power has worked its magic and he is finally starting to look the part. Of course, the novelty hit There's No One As Irish As Barack Obama is a bit of an exaggeration. He may have at least a few drops of Irish blood coursing through his veins, but he's also technically related to George Bush, Brad Pitt and Queen Elizabeth herself.

For understandable reasons, the US president has always been more interested in the African side of his ancestry -- although he later joked that running for election in Chicago would have been a lot easier if he'd put an apostrophe between the first two letters of his surname.

Between now and May, Obama will have to brush up on the details of his family tree. Speaking about the last Kearney to leave Moneygall in the White House yesterday, he even got the number of 'greats' wrong.

He will also have to address the awkward fact that when his most direct Irish ancestor emigrated to Baltimore, he married into a family that kept black slaves.

However, the details of Obama's personal history are much less important than the symbolism of his visit. This will be a powerful reminder of the deep relationship between a small island on the edge of Europe and the biggest superpower the world has ever seen.



MESSY

There should be a few quid in it for us too -- because at a time when Ireland needs inward investment more than ever, an endorsement from the US president is the sort of publicity that money can't buy.

Sooner or later, Kenny will come crashing down to earth. The messy details of bank bailouts and debt renegotiations are already piling up on his desk, with crucial EU meetings to be held before the end of the month. When Obama and the queen have gone home, the scale of his economic challenge will be as daunting as ever.

Whatever happens in future, however, Kenny will always be remembered as the man who brought Barack to Ireland -- and as Roddy Doyle might say, the only word for that is 'brilliant'.


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