'ENDA always had a foot firmly in both camps." That's how one veteran Fine Gael politician sums up the Taoiseach's stance on Fine Gael's traditional internal divide between its Christian and social democrat wings.
Each wing has taken diametrically opposed stances on Ireland's 'alternative trinity' issues of abortion, divorce and contraception, which often proved difficult for Mr Kenny's generation of politicians.
The topic of abortion, especially, has long sat right on Fine Gael's internal fault line with the potential to convulse the party. Add to that the Labour Party's strong insistence that there must soon be legislation on abortion, and you have a very tricky situation facing Mr Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.
It is a safe bet that nothing will happen until after the children's referendum on November 10. But the issue of abortion will have to be faced very soon as delay has followed delay and a legal vacuum has been allowed persist for two decades by six successive governments of every political hue.
Next September will see the 30th anniversary of the first referendum on the issue. It is 20 years since the Supreme Court delivered a key ruling on the matter, in the so-called X case, and it is 10 years since the last real effort to deal with the matter, again by referendum.
The Programme for Government agreed in March 2011 to set up an expert group of lawyers and medical people to point the way forward. The programme acknowledged the December 2010 European Court of Human Rights decision, which followed on from the 1992 X case verdict by the Irish Supreme Court.
In essence, these two court verdicts said abortion must be provided in Ireland in cases where the mother's life is at risk. The contentious part of the ruling is that the risk to life can include a threat of suicide by the mother. But the equally contentious part is that six successive governments have failed to comply with the Irish Constitution and make legal provision for a very limited form of abortion.
The 14-member expert group, chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan of the High Court, was set up in November 2011 and its postponed report is now overdue.
In the meantime, there have been strong soundings from within Fine Gael warning against legislating for any form of abortion and equally strong messages from Labour about the long-overdue need for just such legislation.
Both Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore are long enough in politics to know how sensitive and difficult this issue is. They will keep the Health Minister, under whose direct responsibility this issue rests, under close supervision as the next moves are played out.
Soundings emanating from the Government in the past week suggest that any legislation on the matter might be minimalist. Ministerial guidelines would allow for the designation of a hospital where this most limited form of abortion would ultimately be available. A panel of experts would be set up to assess each case and there would be provision to appeal the experts' assessment. It remains to be seen whether this would go far enough to satisfy Labour demands or whether it would go too far for some within Fine Gael.
NOBODY wants to see a return to the appalling scenes of the September 1983 abortion referendum. Vulgar abuse from both sides too often took the place of reasoned discussion and ordinary people were left deeply confused, compounding public reluctance to confront the issue.
The nation has voted three times in 30 years and been asked five separate questions. This process has not led to any clear outcome. It all strongly suggests that the onus has long been on the Government to resolve matters along the lines set out by the Supreme Court.
It might be beneficial if our Fine Gael veteran's assessment held good and Mr Kenny did not carry too much ideological baggage as he approached this issue anew. It is also to be hoped that Mr Gilmore can deploy a similar mix of pragmatism and sensitivity.
Some of the recent events, especially surrounding Dr James Reilly, suggest the Taoiseach and Tanaiste are lacking in the political and personnel management departments. But if they can handle the abortion issue successfully, then they will have good grounds to argue that this is a real and workable coalition. Anything less will leave clear evidence that they are presiding over a bloated and vulnerable government.