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Fergus Finlay: Kenny isn't Obama and his task is huge, but he's off to a flyer

SO, what are the strengths of this new Coalition team?

Well, first, the fact that they've been waiting so long.

Second, the fact that some of the senior members of this team are already well-bonded as a result of a week of negotiations.

Third, the sense of leadership already emanating from the two men at the top of this government. Fourth, the size of their majority.

And the weaknesses? First, the size of their majority -- dissent will surface on a daily basis, and will be pernicious if they can't manage it.

Second, the scale of the problem they face. The thing that bonded the negotiating team most was the enormity of the economic briefings they got.


Third, the fact that they've been waiting so long means that very few members of this Government have any actual experience of government, and some of them are going to get a rude awakening.

And fourth, the sense of new leadership is already generating unreal expectations.

Already I've heard Enda Kenny being compared to Obama, with calls for state-of- the-nation addresses and fireside chats. Give the man a chance, for God's sake!

You could actually list a dozen strengths and a dozen weaknesses -- and find all of them matching.

But the real, abiding strength of this Government is that it is new, and totally different.

They went to Aras an Uachtarain in a coach last night, not a fleet of Mercs. And their first act as a Government was to reduce their own salaries.

As a gesture of intent, that shouldn't be underestimated. We knew they had promised to do that sort of thing -- but we're used to governments breaking their promises before they're even dry on the page. The sight of a government keeping its promises is a bit shocking!

Some things of course don't change. They'll have been irritated this morning, no doubt, to discover that all the media speculation surrounds whether Joan Burton is annoyed at not getting the more senior finance job.

I'd suspect she is -- after all, she was the one person who, right from the start, argued about the approach the last government took to the banking sector. And she was the one person on the Opposition benches with the capacity to really annoy Brian Lenihan when he was Minister for Finance.

But some years ago Joan was a junior minister in social welfare, as it then was, and discovered a fundamental flaw in the fact that the tax systems and the social welfare systems are unable to talk to one another -- two huge databases that are designed never to cross over.

For a number of years now she has highlighted that fact as one of the key obstacles to reform of the social welfare system, to eliminate waste and to target it where it's most needed.

She has a real opportunity now to crack that dilemma -- and if she succeeds, she'll go down in history as one of the most reforming ministers in history.

Overall, though, each of them will be approaching their desks this morning with a real sense of anticipation, and a hunger for the job. And they'll be followed in short order by a team of junior ministers that I expect to balance up the team in terms of gender and age.


They really will have to remember that word -- team -- and utilise every bit of talent they can.

But all the signs are that they have a captain who is willing to lead from the front.

I don't care what anyone says, he played a blinder yesterday throughout -- warm, human, firm, authoritative.

He just has to keep that going now for another fifteen hundred days or so, in the face of some of the most overwhelming problems any government has ever faced.

No problem, Enda!