Kenny had good NI relations, despite tendency to lecture

Morning View

Morning View

Enda Kenny is leaving after more than six years at the helm of the Republic of Ireland government.

He was Taoiseach when the Queen visited Dublin in 2011, and presided over a time when relations between Ireland and the UK were mostly good.

Mr Kenny was Irish prime minister in some of the most difficult years after the financial crisis, which hit the Republic badly. Its economy is now growing well.

The country generally swallowed the medicine of austerity that other indebted parts of Europe have been more reluctant to take. Even so, there has been a reticence in Dublin about tackling pay, that in parts of its public sector remains high.

These are problems that politicians in many countries are reluctant to tackle. Whether or not Ireland is financially disciplined is a matter for them and for their eurozone partners.

Mr Kenny, while he traditionally seemed to come from the ‘green’ wing of Fine Gael, has never been hostile to unionists or the UK, even though some critics feel his regime could have helped David Cameron more in his EU re-negotiation bid.

There has, though, been an aspect of his government that has been tedious from a Northern Irish perspective: a tendency to lecture London. Mr Kenny has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into one Troubles murder, that of Pat Finucane.

He has more than once said there should be no direct rule. Soon after Brexit, he got into controversy over a border poll.

His foreign minister, Charlie Flanagan, has a similar record, calling yesterday for an international judge to assess British intelligence on the Dublin-Monaghan bomb, fuelling the impression of collusion (a republican mantra).

We wish Mr Kenny well, who served his country at a difficult time. His regular attendances at Enniskillen on Remembrance Day were a much appreciated gesture up here.

Viewed from a unionist perspective, Mr Kenny’s successor might be less palatable. But is it unrealistic to hope that, whoever it is, they will stop lecturing us on internal affairs, in the way that London and unionists never lecture Dublin?