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Monday 22 September 2014

Enda under pressure as FG's 'good servant' bites back

Published 27/07/2014 | 02:30

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Frank Flannery
Frank Flannery

Enda Kenny is already on a journey of discovery about how hell really does have no fury like many Fine Gael women scorned.

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Last week, though, he also learnt the scorned spin doctor can sting like a trampled scorpion. Our Taoiseach knows a bit more about that particular truth, now that Frank Flannery's self-imposed period of silence and exile has come to an end.

His more serious battle may be with the PAC, but when it comes to that bit of 'bother', nothing has wounded Flannery more than the manner in which Kenny discarded him with the distaste of a vicar shaking something noxious off the bottom of his shoe.

It would be excessive to say that the returned Flannery has scores to settle with Kenny, or that he is a rogue spin doctor, but Flannery is now a man who has the freedom to analyse the escalating decline of Fine Gael without being restrained by the silken ties of grace and favour.

And we all know how much 'Dear Leader' Enda dislikes that school of straightforward talking.

The return of Flannery is all the more unnerving for Kenny because Flannery is not merely some spin doctor who can only understand focus groups.

Critically - not that it was very much appreciated during that whole Fine Gael/Sinn Fein Coalition episode - Flannery also has an intuitive capacity to understand long-term seismic shifts in Irish politics.

Within Fine Gael this capacity meant Kenny's 'good servant' was the figure who, far more so than Kenny, charted the road map back to relevance. Though last week's coverage of the scorned spin doctor's revenge might have been dominated by Flannery's claim that the Fine Gael strategy for the recent local elections was: "one of the worst I ever saw", Kenny will be far more unnerved by Flannery's belief that it is the "destiny" of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to come together.

The problem for 'Dear Leader' is that an individual of Flannery's substance does not release the concept of such a coalition into the ether unless he suspects it is coming
sooner rather than later. 


And if it is to happen sooner, Flannery obviously believes Fine Gael will not escape from the killing fields of election 2014, which has left Kenny facing general election losses of 30 seats.

Should such an event occur, Kenny may make history in a slightly different way to that which he has envisaged. One might think it should be a matter for rejoicing if Kenny became the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be returned to government since 1927.

That depends though, on whether he comes back as the boss or as the new Tanaiste under a Fianna Fail Taoiseach.

Should the latter occur, one suspects it would not be too long before he would suffer a worse fate than a Gilmore.

In fairness to Fine Gael's 'good servant', Flannery did supply Kenny with a roadmap out of trouble via his warning about the main cause of the burgeoning Fine Gael empathy deficit.

But will the Blueshirt slow learners take heed of the warning that Fine Gael's great weakness is that it gets into bed with the mandarins and holds itself "aloof" from the electorate'' once the lads get the Mercs?

In the case of a Fine Gael party that has adopted this attitude in spades, Flannery warned the 'Dear Leader' and his acolytes that to survive they must re-establish some form of communion with an alienated electorate.

One suspects that far from thinking Fine Gael can be rescued, the actual view of the scalded spin doctor is best summarised by his declaration that, working for Fine Gael again is: "becoming a less attractive option by the day".

Or to put it another way, Flannery does not appear to think there are many blue skies on the horizon for FG.

It is ironic to think that 'Dear Leader' thought back when all that PAC 'bother' started, that dropping Fine Gael's 'good servant' was the easy road paved with roses.

Kenny, though, has found instead that after the first guileful blossoms the rest of the path consists of a forest of thorns.

As for Flannery, he will enjoy the scenario where at the very point where Fine Gael needs Flannery more than ever to chart a recovery, the newly frankly-speaking Frank has discovered he does not need Fine Gael at all.

If you are wondering, Enda; it is called karma.

ANALYSIS PAGE 22

Sunday Independent

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