Eamon Gilmore's speech last night didn't depart from the recipe book of leaders' adresses. It was heavy on rhetoric and short on specifics. I think journalists last night struggled to find a news line (last time round, Pat Rabbitte included the bombshell that Labour would lower the standard rate of tax). Otherwise it had all the same ingredients and used more or the same method.
I'm not sure if I like the catchline around the word 'purpose' (too many echoes of a FF election slogan from 2002). If you were very cyncial about it you could distill it down to the following: Eamon Gilmore is a nice and worthy leader who wants to improve education, improve the health services, eliminate poverty and build a better Ireland - and do it all with purpose.
É sin ráite, he delivered it well, aside from opening nerves. He was helped, I'd say, by the fact that it wasn't televised live. And for me the most noteworthy thing was his promise of embarking on a mission around Ireland to meet and to learn. So early in the election cycle, that's the only thing to do.
Two other interesting aspects. Like Enda Kenny, Gilmore has excellent Irish and it was a pleasure to listen to a couple of complicated passages trí Ghaeilge rather than the token cúpla focal.
Secondly, there may not have been live TV but there was ustream.tv. And it was a super service. The viewership reached a peak of about 250 during the speech. That should very low. But in such a competitive word, that amount of people sitting at home on a Saturday night looking at a stream of a political speech on their computer screens tells you two things: not bad and Anoraks!