Enda Kenny greets the press outside Irish government buildingsGoogle Images

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny is enjoying that rare thing for a top politician: popularity.

His plain spoken style, coupled with his genuine optimism, have turned him into a respected leader at a time when his government is pushing tax hikes and spending cuts to the electorate.

'He’s a naturally optimistic person, there is nothing negative about him and I think people are responding to the freshness of approach that he is bringing to bear,' Irish junior finance minister Brian Hayes told Reuters.

'I think he’s speaking plainly and bluntly to people and the simplicity and directness with which he’s communicating with the Irish people is very important. It’s that optimistic, confident approach that people are responding to.'

How much can change in a year. Last year Hayes and most of his colleagues took a dimmer view of Kenny’s leadership qualities and tried to oust him as a political lightweight.

Buoyed by the publics revulsion over the country's financial collapse, Kenny led the enter-right Fine Gael party into government with a record 28-seat majority.

Unlike his predecessors, Kenny has shown a marked interest in public appearances, crossing the country to deliver speeches rather than simply sit in his office. It's an approach that has won admirers.

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It is also believed that Kenny's genuinely heartfelt and hard hitting response to the Vatican following a report damning into clerical child abuse in Ireland deeply impressed the electorate earlier this year.

'The best PR is the PR that does not have tricks; it’s basic communication, telling it like it is. It may not be very good news but at least people have a handle on what’s going on,' John Gallagher, a public relations lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology department told Reuters.

'But he also comes across as a very powerful public speaker, very encouraging. What he may have lacked in television technique well prior to the election, he makes up as a personal speaker.'

Kenny’s predecessor Brian Cowen was the country’s least popular prime minister in modern times.

'I think the difference between Enda Kenny and Brian Cowen is that Kenny looks like he’s enjoying the job and he’s portraying confidence. At a time like this, that’s absolutely important,' Willie Walsh, the Dublin-born chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), was quoted by Reuters as saying.