Tuesday 6 December 2016

Kenny and Gilmore have made an excellent start

The abuse hurled at Labour leader for putting the national interest ahead of gender equality says a lot about our media, says Ronan Fanning

Published 13/03/2011 | 05:00

THE palpable sense of hope inspired by the convening of the 31st Dail and the formation of the new Government is a measure of the national despair induced by the preceding administration. Such hope may prove misplaced, but it has been an auspicious beginning.

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Enda Kenny's choice of Simon Harris, the youngest Fine Gael TD, to propose him as Taoiseach was inspirational. But a more significant symbol was Eamon Gilmore's courageous agreement that Ciara Conway, the youngest Labour TD, should second Mr Kenny's nomination. Courageous in the light of Labour's disappointed hopes that Mr Gilmore might have become Taoiseach and because it was bound to offend those members of the Labour Party who find it intolerable that a Labour TD should play such a prominent role in the appointment of a Fine Gael Taoiseach. Such a marked breach with past practice was an immediate signal of Mr Gilmore's determination to play a leading role in establishing a genuinely national Government.

Micheal Martin's announcement that Fianna Fail would not oppose Mr Kenny's nomination because it recognised his mandate represented an even larger recognition of the need to abandon the trenches of traditional inter-party warfare. Again, he will not be thanked by his backwoodsmen for giving Mr Kenny his massive and unprecedented 90-vote majority. But it was immediately apparent from the opening exchanges after Mr Kenny returned as Taoiseach from Aras an Uachtarain that Mr Martin's real difficulty in this regard is not his own backbenchers but the now serried ranks of Sinn Fein and, in particular, the role to which Gerry Adams clearly aspires -- leader of the opposition.

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