Kenny has a reputation for being very likable in person. Is that reputation deserved?
He’s extremely likable, that did not surprise me at all because that is very much part of his image. What I was really trying to see was what was behind that likability. In small groups he is much more fluent and compelling than he would appear to be were you to judge him from his big media set pieces. When cameras train on him he seems to freeze up, which is an interesting problem for somebody in that position. But when he’s relaxed he’s interesting and has a lot to say.
His predecessor Brian Cowen called him a fool. Did he have any foolish moments when you interviewed him?
He didn’t do anything that one would think of as particularly foolish. He’s certainly endearing and has a slightly childlike quality to his enthusiasm. There was a moment, when he was showing me around his office and showing me absolutely everything, including all his photos, where you found yourself thinking that he was sweet. But that is combined with a real sense of shrewdness, and that is the thing that doesn’t come across when you see him at a distance.
How genuinely sensitive do you think he is to the financial woes of Irish people?
I think all politicians are far too insulated from reality but in Ireland they are actually less so than in other countries. I mention in the piece that Enda Kenny walks to and from work, and he does actually have regular direct contact with people who tell him exactly what they think. You may wonder how much that actually means to him because he has a job and is being paid for his work. I suspect that in Ireland more politicians know people who are themselves directly in trouble than is the case in many of the more featherbed capitals of the world. So he’s not himself directly suffering but I’m pretty sure he does know what’s going on.