From top; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaves Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday after receiving his seal of office from President Higgins; Dan Boyle
Yesterday, June 14th, 2017, Leo Varadkar became the fourteenth head of government of the Republic of Ireland/Irish Free State.
Being caught up in his own history, he was probably blissfully unaware, that the day was also the tenth anniversary of when the Green Party became part of an Irish government.
While not being directly comparable, there are parallels that apply to anyone whose accesses power at a higher level. Chief among these would be two factors, those of opportunity and chance, factors which impact on the ability to achieve.
The opportunity of achieving office only has value, if the chance that accompanies it is favourable. Chance is that combination of circumstance and durability. Neither you get to choose. Neither can ever really be controlled.
You are either an agent of continuity or an agent of change. Pretending to be a bit of both only hastens an end to opportunity.
How capricious, how ephemeral, politics can be, can be seen from noting who else held office where, this time ten years ago.
In Stormont, the Chuckle Brothers were still only rehearsing their new routine, after their respective parties, Sinn Féin and the DUP, became kings of their castles.
In Westminister, Tony Blair was about to hand over to Gordon Brown who had brooded over that office for several years.
In Paris Nicholas Sarkozy had been President of France only for a matter of weeks. In Washington, George W Bush still had eighteen months of his lame duck term to serve.
The only constants are Putin in Russia and Angela Merkel in Germany (then only eighteen months into her first chancellorship).
If Leo achieves the six years in office that Enda Kenny has, he will have done very well. His first priority will be to use the time he has to buy more time. Failure to do so will consign him to the club of short term Taoisigh, with members like Albert Reynolds, John Bruton and Brian Cowen.
On a personal level I wish him well. Given our policy differences, my expectations wouldn’t be high, but that should never be a reason for wishing him, or anyone, ill. He is competent enough, confident enough, and as far as can be ascertained possessed of a sufficient integrity, to make a fair fist of the job.
I hope he is lucky, without being too lucky. His predecessor carried huge reserves of luck with him, even if he achieved little with the use of his good fortune.
He will soon be disabused of whatever expectation he has held about his office. The power bubble, he will become absorbed into, is a sealed vacuum which becomes detached from the reality and routine of everyday life.
Politicians who reach a high point in their career, run the risk of becoming further and further detached. Surrounding themselves with political friends and advisers, who have become similarly afflicted, only helps to increase their isolation.
To avoid becoming an actualised Pac Man, avoiding regular asteroid showers, our new Taoiseach should give a lot of thought towards doing most things differently. That should buy him a bit more time.