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It hurts me to say it, but Enda has had a fantastic first 10 days

With my political background. I could not find the following more difficult to say if I were bound and gagged ... but, I must admit that Enda Kenny and the new Government have had an amazingly good first 10 days.

They have the optics right, so far.

They acted quickly on issues like ministerial cars, garda drivers and office staff, while Taoiseach Enda's walking to the office routine conveyed a strong image of a good man striding out to do the people's work.

For a man whose political career has been so marked by bad breaks, one could not begrudge Enda the good luck to find himself heading off on the annual trip to add to America's crystal bowl mountain within days of taking office.

The trip was good news all around: for Enda, his handlers and all the White House staffers who didn't collect enough Texaco tokens to have a bowl of their own.


Indeed Enda's cup of good fortune was topped up in the Oval Office when President Obama confirmed he'd be popping over on Air Force One in May.

Just in time to take ministers' minds off the fact that their cars and garda drivers have just been taken.

Indeed, it is a good job that American Presidents have their limos flown-in in advance: otherwise some poor minion in Iveagh House would now be contacting car hire companies trying to find something bullet proof with tinted windows and its own driver.

With these few small acts, Taoiseach Enda has managed to achieve a greater connection with the public mood in a few days than his predecessor could manage in almost three years. At this junction, the handful of Fine Gaelers among you who support our native language are screaming out: "Tus maith, leath na hoibre" which (for the benefit of the new Aire Gaeltacht) loosely translates as "well begun is half done".

True, but none of the measures so far are actually about tackling the big work of the Government.

They are about popularity. An important thing for government, as I know from the personal experience of having and not having it, but not a commodity you can convert into tangible, real world benefits.

The real work, the real implementation, the stuff that helped to make the last Government even more reviled, has yet to start.

That work commences next week when the new ministers settle down with their advisers and civil servants to turn Mario Cuomo's sweet poetry of campaigning into the harsh prose of government.

The big test for such first time office holders as the new Health Minister, (a sort of cross between Capt Birdseye and Brian Blessed) is can they shift completely out of the "promise all" mindset born of 14 years of opposition.

His RTE interview would suggest that this is very much a work in slow progress.

One of the first realities the Government faces came back into town this week with the brief visit from the bailout men from the EU and IMF.

This time they were just here to meet with the new Government. No doubt the fact that they were confronted with not one, but two, finance ministers assured them that the new administration is doubly anxious to meet its obligations.

The Number One Finance Minister as good as said that when he told reporters afterwards that the lads were happy with the new Programme for Government as "we are meeting the fiscal targets over the period in Government".


In other words -- this Government is following the same overall targets as the last one.

The new settings typed into the State's economic satnav may send this crowd down along roads running parallel to ones previously travelled, but the direction and destination are the same.

I do not recall hearing either Number One or Number Two Finance Minister saying that much a few weeks ago, though.