Their most recent achievements have been impressive: Enda’s face on the cover of the European edition of Time magazine and his naming as European of the Year by the German Magazine Publishers’ Association.
With the Taoiseach’s biography due for release in the coming weeks, their next logical project can only be: Enda, the Movie. It may well be a realistic prospect. Enda may even get to play himself — just as the French film The Artist demonstrated last year — there is a market for silent movies.
The achievements of the Taoiseach’s spin doctors are all the greater when you consider how little material he and his ministers give them to work with. The bulk of the corrections to the economy for which he is lauded happened before his watch, including reductions in the budget deficit and cuts in public service numbers. For the most part they were the achievements of measures he objected to in opposition.
The actions of his Government since taking office have seen some key indicators go into reverse. When Kenny came to office in February 2011, unemployment was 14.1 per cent — it is now 14.8 per cent (this does not allow for increasing emigration). Real GDP this year (Q2: 2012) is about 1.1 per cent lower than it was a year ago.
I am slightly wrong in attributing this to government activity as it is more correctly the consequence of government inactivity.
Despite the spin and the hype, Kenny and Gilmore’s Government is steadily transitioning itself into a slow-motion, inaction replay of the dreadful 1982-87 coalition government.
It spent five years doing a lot of talking but it achieved nothing. The lack of focus, dithering and indecisiveness of the 1982-87 government meant that the international upturn that swept across the rest of the Western world completely bypassed Ireland.
The Eighties was a lost decade for a generation of young Irish people. We cannot afford a repeat of that now.
We are now five years into this economic and banking crisis — and the way ahead is no clearer now than it was at its deepest point. The mistakes of the 1982-87 government are being played out again with the two parties cancelling each other out.
Fine Gael and Labour went into the last election with widely varying approaches to our problems and, in essence, those almost contradictory approaches still exist.
The recent mini-rebellion by eight FG backbenchers is as much a reaction to the posturing of Labour as it is to the indecision and inactivity of their own ministers.
Look at the foot-dragging on the worsening business credit crisis. The response from Government has been painfully slow and inadequate.
Only Greece refuses more loans to small businesses than we do and yet the most the Irish Government can muster is €150m a year for three years. Fine Gael’s much trumpeted “Credit Where Credit is Due” banking policy has been pulped and in its place we get virtually nothing.
Enda Kenny is no Garret FitzGerald and, as both Willie Penrose and Roisin Shortall have discovered, Eamon Gilmore is certainly no Dick Spring. Both Enda and Eamon have all Garret and Dick’s faults and failings without any of their charisma or ability.
It does not augur well.