Monday 24 October 2016

Kenny's (latest) 'whingers' gaffe puts the spotlight back on his judgment

Published 23/02/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Steve Humphreys

Enda Kenny is right. There are an awful lot of 'whingers' out there. They exist in the media, in politics, in the celebrity world and, believe it or not, in Castlebar.

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There is a section of the population for whom moaning constitutes a pastime.

Some of us even enjoy it. We're not happy unless we can justify saying we're unhappy.

It's probably the reason Irish people talk about the weather more than anyone else the world over - despite the fact that we actually have one of the best climates possible.

So what's the big deal?

The Taoiseach was shooting the breeze back on home turf and pointed out the obvious.

That doesn't seem like such a big issue.

Except you can't use that kind of inflammatory rhetoric days out from a General Election when you are leader of the main party.

It's not so much the sentiment that many people will disagree with, it's the idea that Enda Kenny thought it was okay to say it.

Calling your own people "whingers" when you are trying to get three seats in a four-seat constituency shows seriously bad judgement.

Taking two news cycles to correct yourself is simply unforgiveable.

Mr Kenny now claims that it was "a local issue" relating to those annoying Fianna Fáil councillors - but that excuse doesn't hold, because once you go national, there's no going back.

The bigger problem for the Fine Gael leader is that if Michelle Mulherin fails to get across the line with himself and Michael Ring, people will point to last Saturday's gaffe.

A Millward Brown opinion poll for the Irish Independent suggested that he would pull off a 'Herculean task' but that has to be in doubt now.

His "whingers" swipe has opened the door for Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers to capitalise.

Most country towns like to have the small boy who did well.

Enda Kenny did that for Castlebar - but there is nothing worse than if they get notions while they are away earning the big bucks in the city.

It's a simplistic view of the world but rural Ireland likes its 'celebrities' to stay grounded.

Mr Kenny could always claim to have done that. He went to the GAA matches, remembered the local radio station when announcing the election date and his family is still based at home.

That's why it hurts all the more when he announces to the country that Castlebar has "All Ireland whingers".

Added to the mistakes over Michael Lowry, 'Fiscal Space' and Fianna Fáil coalitions, Mr Kenny's judgment is now very much in the spotlight.

Tonight, he faces the final leaders' debate in RTÉ, knowing that his entire career depends on it.

That might sound dramatic but he is no longer trying to convince just the voting public alone that he is the man to lead for another five years, he's also trying to prove to his party that he's the man for the job. Make no mistake, tonight all eyes will be on the Taoiseach.

Irish Independent

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