Wednesday 16 August 2017

Enda may use 'Toy Show' slot for speech to nation

Enda Kenny. Photo: PA
Enda Kenny. Photo: PA

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is considering making his state of the nation address on the economy before the 'Late Late Toy Show' this Friday night.

Mr Kenny is aiming to calm Budget fears in a live TV speech as his senior ministers, James Reilly and Joan Burton, heighten concerns over cuts and charges.

Government sources insist no firm day or time has been pinned down at all yet, but the primetime slot between the RTE 'Nine News' and the 'Late Late Show' is a contender.

But there is even a possibility he will wait until after the Budget next week.

The speech is still only being planned, but the current thinking within government circles is drifting away from Thursday and into the weekend.

"Absolutely, he's still doing it. Probably this weekend. Friday evening perhaps. It might be between the 'Nine News' and the start of the 'Late Late'," a senior source said.

This Friday's 'Late Late Show' is the annual 'Toy Show', which brings in a bumper audience, attracting an average of 1.4 million viewers last year.

Mr Kenny is keen to make the address at a time when he will get a big audience. But he will have to weigh up whether appearing before the 'Toy Show' sets the right tone. A teatime slot around the RTE 'Six One News' is also in the frame. Saturday and Sunday are less engaged times and the first of two Budget speeches is being delivered on Monday night.

A separate Government source admitted to finding the intense focus on Thursday as being the definite date as "amusing".

"The date of it genuinely hasn't been finalised. It will be before or immediately after the Budget -- more likely before. But possibly within 48 hours of the Budget," the source said.

The speech will be longer than a party political broadcast but far shorter than a party Ard Fheis speech, meaning the length will be about 10 minutes.

The script for the address is already being worked on by Mr Kenny's in-house team of speech writers and advisers, including his chef-de-cabinet Mark Kennelly, his long-time speechwriter Miriam O'Callaghan and advisers Angela Flanagan and Paul O'Brien.

Consultant

"It's the normal team. He (Mr Kenny) works on and finalises all his speeches himself," a government source said.

PR consultant Terry Prone, whose Communications Clinic often does work for Fine Gael, was also being mentioned for "polishing".

Part of Mr Kenny's task will be to calm fears about the Budget after a series of leaks relating to Dr Reilly and Ms Burton's areas.

Dr Reilly yesterday claimed it wasn't his fault that a list of potential cuts, including a €50 medical card tax, a hike in prescription charges and the wide-scale closure of community hospitals, was leaked last week. But this list of cuts all came from a briefing he provided to Fine Gael and Labour Party TDs and Senators.

Dr Reilly then refused to rule out any of these items appearing in the Budget.

Irish Independent

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