The Verdict

The Taoiseach opened his address with the stated aim of speaking to us directly on the challenges we face but it was in fact quite a cautious message. He did not make any great mistakes. He probably did not upset any particular group and he made a reasonably good job of balancing the reality of what we are facing with being optimistic about our chances of recovery. His core message was “stay the course”.

He did made an effort to address people in a more personal way and his use of more personal language like “I would love to tell you. . . and “I wish I could tell you . . .” sounded genuine. But his speech sounded at times like a post-budget party political broadcast – only delivered before the budget. It was review and summary of a plan and strategy we already know a lot about. It was always going to be difficult to use the dramatic setting of a State of the Nation Address to discuss the merits of indirect taxation and budgetary adjustments. Towards the end he got more confident and his reference to making Ireland “the best small country in the world” in which to do business, rear a family and grow old in was good as was his reference to the Irish character – an echo of Dev’s famous 1945 “a small nation that stood alone”. 

Originally quoted in The Irish Times. 

Posted: 05 December 2011