Saturday 3 December 2016

Kenny rallies troops with demand that FF 'be put to sword'

Brian McDonald and Tom Shiel

Published 21/02/2011 | 05:00

ALL that remains is for Mayo to acclaim the county's first ever Taoiseach.

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Or so it seemed in Enda Kenny country over the weekend as his own people turned out for what had all the hallmarks of a pre-victory rally.

And with the weekend polls confirming that Mr Kenny is on the cusp of his party's biggest election success, not even Labour's sniping can spoil the party.

But while Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins insisted the party was on the home stretch to single-party government, his leader was more interested in taking his cue from Mr Higgins's insistence that Fianna Fail "be put to the sword".

There was no shortage of fighting talk from him at the hometown rally in Castlebar to stiffen the backs of the troops and keep them on their toes until Friday.

And Mr Kenny made it clear that he wanted his party's oldest political opponents to be routed on Friday.

"We want to steer this country away from the dark days of collusion and cronyism," he declared to rapturous applause. More than 500 people turned up in the Market Square to hear him deliver one of his most passionate speeches in the campaign so far.

In an unscripted oration, Mr Kenny said the problems facing the country were huge, but "there was no need to be afraid because Irish people had dealt with adversity all their lives".

He continued: "We have overcome those adversities and challenges before and will do so again."

Sketching a compelling image of himself as a nation-builder if elected, Mr Kenny warned the steps to a new Ireland would demand courage, sacrifice and integrity.

And in a clearly well-planned piece of Fine Gael choreography, some of the party's marquee names from the recent past emerged to join him on his tour of the constituency.

In Castlebar, he received a ringing endorsement from former Taoiseach John Bruton, who was accompanied by his wife Finola.

Former Fine Gael TD and presidential candidate Austin Currie also joined Team Kenny and the other Fine Gael candidates -- John O'Mahony TD, Michelle Mulherin and Michael Ring TD -- on the Castlebar platform.

Irish Independent

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