Monday 20 February 2017

Nothing - not even a toddler - gets up Enda's nose

Published 12/02/2016 | 02:30

Myles Motuza gets close to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Daisy Chain Daycare creche in Clochran, Tuam. Photo: Andrew Downes
Myles Motuza gets close to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Daisy Chain Daycare creche in Clochran, Tuam. Photo: Andrew Downes

One young man saw his opportunity. Here was the most powerful politician in the country. It was wide open and he went for it.

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No, he wasn't a water protester seeking to give Enda Kenny a piece of his mind or a true-blue Fine Gaeler after a selfie.

Instead it was a little boy whose finger certainly brushed off the nostril of An Taoiseach.

It was perhaps entirely accidental - and a tilt of Mr Kenny's head prevented any real exploration - but it was a reminder that around children - anything can and does happen.

Mr Kenny chose Daisy Chain Day Care in Tuam, Co Galway to launch his 'Investing in the Early Years' plan.

A former teacher, he's a natural with the kids, effortlessly floating from "what does a cow say?" to joining them in a bit of colouring in. The early years of a child's lives are, as Mr Kenny put it, "magical".

"I suppose in essence the first five years last forever," he mused. "That's why we want to invest in them - because they make a mark on their future."

So Fine Gael wants to give a €2,000 annual subsidy to parents of children between nine months and three years and an additional eight weeks leave in the first year of a child's life.

But how, Mr Kenny, do you defend the Government's record on childcare to parents who have already paid what often amounts to a second mortgage on crèches?

He points out that the country was "bankrupt" when the coalition took office but that they've created a senior Children's Minister, held a Children's Rights referendum, and established the Child and Family Agency.

None of that put money in parents' pockets, but, Mr Kenny says, the Fine Gael plan "is a package that's building on a recovering economy and that's going to be of benefit I think to the vast majority of parents [with young children]."

Earlier, Mr Kenny officially became a candidate in the election by handing in his nomination papers in Castlebar.

So will it be for the last time?

"Are Galway going to win the All-Ireland in the next few years or will it be ourselves? Who knows what the future holds," he said.

"My commitment is if we're re-elected on the 26th that I'll serve a full term as Taoiseach and I would be honoured to do so. However, it's a matter for the people to make their decision."

Irish Independent

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