Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke last night at Dublin Chamber of Commerce in the National Convention Centre. There were almost 1,600 attendees – people in and of business.
Time and again since this Government took office we have heard its members say that its “primary goals” are “economic growth and job creation”. We have also heard it say “the government doesn’t create jobs: it is the private sector, and the SME sector in particular, that creates jobs”.
Logically then one would expect the leader of the country to have a strong, tailored and – one would hope – inspiring address for probably the single biggest and most attentive audience of the private sector that will convene until this event comes around in a year’s time. Who better to send forth, renewed with a sense of purpose to rise to the challenge of playing their part in reaching those primary goals.
Sadly not. The 15 minutes allotted wandered into 30 with 5 minutes off script at the beginning and a meandering 10 minutes unscripted at the end bookending a flat and uninspired script that gave a generalised run down of the ‘achievements’ of this government for Dublin. No identification of collective purpose, no theme around the priorities ahead to be shared, no call to action.
Those 30 minutes did nothing for the audience and it did nothing for his cause. To add to the frustration, a number present had attended the re-inaugurated IMI Conference on Wednesday and reported a similar performance around similar material. Not good.
I get that the Taoiseach works incredibly hard, and selflessly, to do as many of the right things as it is possible to do. I get in particular that he has worked tirelessly at promoting Ireland and talking up our efforts towards recovery, especially abroad – and he is bloody good at it. I get also that he is in the middle of an intense period politically, on the verge of the Budget, and that he may be a bit wounded after the rejection via referendum of the abolition of the Seanad.
This however was an opportunity that the Taoiseach and his advisers should have identified from afar as an important platform – one that merited a focussed message and a polished performance, with all of the preparation that both require. It got neither. It got the opposite in both cases. A potentially big positive has been converted into a big negative. There is no renewed effort flowing out from the hall, out and down the quays and carried into hundreds of work places small and big this morning.
A missed opportunity indeed…