Sunday 4 December 2016

Leadership comes with a duty to act in defence of people now living in terror

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: :Arthur Carron
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: :Arthur Carron

In the coming days, Enda Kenny will 'travel' to the northside of Dublin to meet with a community of people who live under the shadow of gangland.

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He will meet men who don't have enough money for two pints and women who won't thank him for 'volunteering' to run the country.

It will be a very different experience for Mr Kenny, who has a knack for meeting 'common people' who tell him anecdotes about how great life is since the economy began to recover.

They will, no doubt, raise the issue of policing and the Taoiseach will reassure them that everything possible is being done to end the bloodshed.

But according to the Policing Authority such pronouncements mean little - because until the shadow hanging over An Garda Síochána in the wake of the O'Higgins' Report is lifted, all the good work done by gardaí on the ground every day can "be set to nought".

Over the past fortnight and particularly since Tuesday's murder of Gareth Hutch, we have heard a lot of talk from our leaders - but it's now clear that it's time for them to listen for a change.

Enda Kenny and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan need to listen to the people of Dublin's north inner city and to the Policing Authority.

The time has passed for 'justice crisis' deniers and now we need somebody to show the way forward.

This week, neither Mr Kenny nor Ms O'Sullivan gave us any reason to believe they are that person.

Of course, the controversy around the events probed by the O'Higgins Commission and the Kinahan/Hutch feud are complex and weren't born in recent months - but this is a time for real leadership.

That leadership has nothing to do with seniority or title. It doesn't even have a huge amount to do with personality or charisma.

It's about being able to present a vision in a time of bleakness and to convince the population that you can turn that vision into a reality.

Mr Kenny's performance in the Dáil this week has left a lot to be desired in the leadership department.

To be fair, his "I do not think I can stop that" was overplayed but he did say it during 'Leaders' Questions' not 'Kenny's Questions'.

Are we now to decipher for ourselves when he is speaking as Taoiseach and when he is speaking as a 'Citizen Kenny'?

Aside from that, his promises of action were weak. He told us the gardaí had all the resources they need when this is blatantly not true.

The Garda Commissioner might say she has enough resources but her officers on the ground and a daylight murder in a busy part of the city centre say otherwise.

Then he agreed with Mary Lou McDonald that CCTV footage of the moments leading up to Gareth Hutch's murder should be taken off the web, while admitting that he hadn't actually seen it.

Hiding the reality of the violence is in nobody's interest.

In the coming weeks, the Commissioner faces a serious public grilling from the Policing Authority. She better be prepared because for Enda Kenny to lose a second commissioner on his watch would be worse than careless.

Irish Independent

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