Friday 22 September 2017

Enda's relationship with media gone to (flower) pot

John Drennan

John Drennan

The Government and the opposition might have been united in their delight at the end of the Dail session last week, but relations between the increasingly sensitive Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the media have plummeted further.

Relations plumbed new depths after the astonishing 'flower-gate' brouhaha, when Mr Kenny stumbled over a flower pot whilst evading a media question about gay marriage.

In the wake of the retraction of a claim that Mr Kenny had effectively been assaulted, it had been hoped that relations between Mr Kenny, the media, and in particular the TV3 correspondent, Ursula Halligan, would be restored to a more normal footing.

What were described as "tense negotiations'' have taken place between political correspondents and his press advisers over restoring "some sense of normality'' to an increasingly "chilly'' relationship.

But despite the provision of "a safety rope'' that now protects Mr Kenny from the media, relations have declined even further in the wake of an extraordinary response by Mr Kenny to a query by Ms Halligan about tensions between the Health Minister James Reilly and the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Whilst the Government has withdrawn its complaint against Ms Halligan, the unforgiven status of the tenacious TV3 correspondent was seen last week when Mr Kenny responded to her questions over whether Mr Gilmore had words with Dr Reilly.

As Mr Kenny launched into a bewildering dissertation about the "difference between having words and speaking", one journalistic source noted that "he sounded like Chauncey Gardner in Being There'.'

However, experienced political journalists across all sections of the media were even more "astonished by the attitude displayed by Mr Kenny to Ms Halligan''.

One source noted "the extent of his feeling was visible; the eyes narrowed, the mouth puckered, it was a terrible struggle for him to even acknowledge her''.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, veteran members of the less-than-sensitive press corps also noted that "it's clear any plans to improve relations are parked on ice for the rest of the summer at least after that encounter".

Sunday Independent

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