Taoiseach’s tough guy act an attempt to hide Irish weakness

Enda Kenny is very slippery on Greece.

From the moment he arrived at a Brussels summit suddenly swamped by the never-ending crisis, Mr Kenny was all over the place, unable to keep up with the fancy footwork of anti-austerity Athenians.

Determined to try to scupper Greece’s attempts at a debt write-down — mainly because if it were successful it would send his Government’s record on debt right down in the public’s opinion — Mr Kenny tried to play tough guy for the Troika.

“In Ireland’s case we did not increase income tax; we did not increase Vat; we did not increase PRSI; but we put up alternatives to those measures that were proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and to make our country competitive and to provide jobs for our people,” Mr Kenny said on his way into the summit.

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Unfortunately, Mr Kenny was on his way out from reality with those comments — as Ireland did all the things he claimed it had not.

Erm, remember USC, Mr Kenny? The income tax rises when the Troika stormed in? Or those Vat and PRSI rises that occurred after the Coalition came to power?

Still, unencumbered by the facts, Mr Kenny went on to lecture the Greeks at some length at the leaders’ meeting, urging them to give up this pesky idea of trying to defend pensions and just roll over for the austerity junkie agenda like Ireland did.

But, sadly, for Mr Kenny’s pan-European ideal of a continent united in prostration before the money men, Greece’s rather more spine-enhanced prime minister Alexis Tsipras said he was going to put his people first not the creditors.

With unemployment in Greece nudging 30%, and more families relying on pensions from grandparents for survival than wages, Mr Tsipras told Mr Kenny and the other leaders he was not interested in playing games, but in protecting the vulnerable.

The knowledge that Greek success would make Ireland look weak was also behind Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s volley of less-than-helpful remarks fired at the Athens agenda all week.

Mr Noonan’s counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis, finally grew impatient with Mr Noonan’s petulance and burned him up with a witheringly condescending response to the gripes.

Mr Varoufakis explained that, if he were given the chance, he could explain in a mere 10 minutes the Greek position that Mr Noonan found so perplexing .

However, this may well be Greek mythology again as, after more than four years in power, the Government still does not get the fact that it would have been better to put the people before the bondholder profiteers.


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