Taoiseach becomes Walter Mitty — again

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is not the first politician to use folksy parables as a framework for sharing policy ideas. When Mr Kenny describes meeting a man on the way to the Dáil, he is using a device used by politicians — and other comedians — for centuries: “On my way to the forum... etc. It is a recognised convention of communication but one with certain pitfalls.

There is a danger with this kind of storytelling; it is too comfortable, too loose, and sometimes encourages off-script flights of fancy that have far more to do with Walter Mitty than Winston Churchill. Unfortunately for Mr Kenny and his party, he was Walter Mitty writ large this week. He must quickly become something far more lucid, far more reliable, or jeopardise his party’s prospects of re-election.

His suggestion that he was told to have the army on standby to prevent anarchy at our banks may not, and this is a pretty generous interpretation, malicious or utterly bizarre but it was dishonest. He received no such warnings, a fact he has recognised, but the damage to his image and credibility had been done. He had spoofed once too often and stepped over the line dividing metaphor and reality. It might be kind just to smile and look away, accepting that there was no malicious intent, but that is impossible on the eve of an election when other party leaders’ credibility rating, especially Mr Adams’, will be central issues in the contest.

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