Kenny left red-faced after Lenin blunder in speech

Suggested holiday reading for Enda Kenny?

A few history books might be appropriate, after the Taoiseach confessed yesterday to making a historical howler in a major speech.

To make matters worse, the howler was about none other than Fine Gael idol Michael Collins.

Last Sunday, Mr Kenny became the first serving Taoiseach to deliver the oration at the annual Béal na mBláth commemoration of Collins. Mr Kenny paid tribute to Collins’s civilian legacy, describing him as, among other things, “the outstanding organiser who brought Lenin himself to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked”.

The only problem? It wasn’t true.

The red flag was raised by contributors to online forums and the broadcaster Vincent Browne, who questioned the accuracy of the speech in a newspaper column yesterday.

A short time later — 90 years to the day that Collins was shot and killed in the Béal na mBláth ambush — the Government admitted the Lenin claim was wrong.

“The script contained an inaccurate reference which was not picked up in advance,” a spokesman said.

“It mistakenly stated Lenin came to Ireland but should have stated it brought Lenin’s attention to Ireland to see how the National Loan worked.”

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, James Ryan, author of Lenin’s Terror and the Ideological Origins of Early Soviet State Violence, said that while the Russian had written about events in this country such as the 1913 Lockout, he never actually came to Ireland.

“He never went further west than the UK. He was never in the United States, for example. He never came to Ireland,” said Dr Ryan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick who is also attached to UCC.

It’s not the first time questions have been raised about Mr Kenny’s speeches.

The Taoiseach had to deny plagiarism when he used part of one of Barack Obama’s old speeches during the US president’s visit to Ireland last year. Mr Kenny said he had directly quoted from Mr Obama’s 2008 speech as a way of “honouring” the president.

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