Taoiseach Enda Kenny gamely dodged donning the Lilywhite jersey at Punchestown last Thursday afternoon as he launched the North Kildare Chamber county strategy.
Despite being told the plan, which sets out a business and cultural vision for the county up to 2015, involves Kildare folk “putting on the county jersey” for the greater good, the Mayo man couldn’t be persuaded to effect a Seanie Johnston-style transfer.
Instead he gingerly held the jersey aloft for snappers and grinned as Kildare politicians and businesspeople, including his party faithful, piled in behind him in for a team photograph.
The strategy is the culmination of months of work by a team of local companies and organisations, led by the North Kildare Chamber board. It sets out a number of project in the areas of marketing, tourism and promotion, business and IT, lifestyle and culture, business ervices, education and research and ‘optimising Kildare’s distinctive capabilities’. Those involved say these can be achieved in the next three years in order to boost the county’s economy.
The Taoiseach, fresh from a jobs announcement at Amgen in Dun Laoghaire, was presented with a copy of the plan by Chamber president Eilis Quinlan in a packed North Kildare Chamber marquee.
He addressed a crowd of around 200 invited guests, who included local TDs and business people, in the North Kildare Chamber marquee.
The Taoiseach described the plan as a combination of aspirations and credible plans to achieve those aims.
But he warned the North Kildare Chamber members that their work is now only beginning.
“Talking documents are no good,” he said, adding “this is not the first one of these strategy documents I have received. They will never happen unless someone accepts responsibility for them and puts them into action”.
Mr Kenny also paid tribute during his speech to the “Punchestown Pumpers”.
He had earlier met the staff who worked overnight to clear the racetrack of a deluge of rainwater.
Television presenter Eddie Hobbs, who emceed the launch, likened the creation of the strategy to the farmer who prayed to win the Lotto but forgot to buy a ticket until prompted by the man above.
“We have to do something to help ourselves,” he said.
North Kildare Chamber president Eilis Quinlan vowed to the Taoiseach that when he returned to Punchestown in 2013, he would find great inroads made into the implementation of the strategy across the county.
“What was clear from the start - and very heart-warming - was the willingness of so many talented people from all areas of the county to get involved and to contribute to the plan,” she said.