Tuesday 25 April 2017

Kenny: I admire Conor McGregor - but my own fight was to form Coalition

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

He's more used to political sparring in Leinster House, but the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has expressed his admiration for UFC fighter Conor McGregor.

Mr Kenny also admitted his own biggest challenge during 2016 was putting a government together following the election last February. He made the remarks during a round-table interview.

"Conor McGregor is a fabulous athlete. He is a no-nonsense man, obviously," Mr Kenny said when asked about the Dubliner winning RTÉ's sportsperson of the year award.

McGregor beat 11 other nominees including boxer Carl Frampton, rugby star Jamie Heaslip and Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy to take the award a week and a half ago.

He became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in different weights. Mr Kenny said: "He is a worthy winner of the sports personality of the year . . . McGregor is a world superstar and he is at the top of that particular category."

Asked about his own challenges to stay on top, Mr Kenny replied: "I actually think to put a government together (was the biggest challenge)".

He said he got "unanimous endorsement" from Fine Gael to tell Fianna Fáil "we will split the difference here".

"I have a Cabinet there of the two main parties and the job that goes with it and that wasn't acceptable to Fianna Fáil.

"So we worked very hard with the team to put a government together and I am glad that happened.

"Now I would say that this has been a learning experience for everybody. I have learned a great deal myself about how it is necessary to think differently."

He said he now realised that he must ensure that TDs were "given all of the facts so that they can make up their minds and know exactly what is involved here".

Mr Kenny added: "We had a couple of cases where free votes were allowed which were not arising from decisions of the Cabinet or were not contained in the Programme for Government - so I think that was the biggest challenge.

"Seventy days was a very long time and I know people were frustrated, were tired and had a long lead into an election, I think that was obviously the biggest challenge. The next biggest challenge is to keep it going in the interest of the country and that requires constant vigilance and engagement with people."

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said that of all the celebrity deaths of 2016, the one that stuck him the most was Muhammad Ali's.

He added: "Muhammad Ali was an iconic figure for me in world sport for so many years and I met him two or three times over quite a number of years ago.

"An extraordinary man and were he in the height of his powers now, with his peace-loving attitude and his capacity to bring people with him, there might be a different result in a lot of other countries' attitudes."

Irish Independent

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