Monday 26 September 2016

Angry women now lie in wait as Enda drops the reshuffle ball

Unease is rife within the party as 
fretful Fine Gael TDs wonder have Kenny's rejig blunders already cost it the next election

Published 20/07/2014 | 02:30

Unease: Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Unease: Taoiseach Enda Kenny

For a week after he won the first battle of the two Cabinet reshuffles, it looked as though a Taoiseach, who had spent the last six months in the dunce's corner, had regained his 'King Enda' status.

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It was, alas, a short reign mainly because Enda can rarely suppress his Jekyll-and- Hyde gene for long.

Mr Hyde was certainly out on the rampage last week, courtesy of the Dear Leader's renewed troubles with that school of well-heeled articulate Fine Gael women who are no longer satisfied with being mere decorative 'lovely girls'.

Not since Albert Reynolds famously noted, 'that's women for ye' has a Taoiseach got 
into quite so much trouble
on the women front.

Mind you, in the case of Enda it was more of a case of 'that's no women for ye' as the Taoiseach was consigned to a similar spot in the pantheon of feminist outrage as his former Mayo nemesis Pee Flynn.

This debacle was, however, a lot more serious than the outrage sparked by Pee about Mary Robinson's 'new hairdo'.

Those of us who reside in Leinster House may not be surprised by the revelation that Enda is such a dullard he thinks geography is more important than gender.

For women across all of the divides in the outside world, the shocking sight of a grinning Kenny, tightly nailing down the already low political glass ceiling, means this could be the reshuffle that, like Garret in 1986, will cost Fine Gael the election and significantly shorten the life of the Government.

The Taoiseach's 'Flynnstone' style reshuffle woes are not confined to the gender front either. Mr Kenny's determined resistance to the wiles of the Fine Gael Frapuccino set, nominally led by Eoghan Murphy, means he also has a problem on the young, talented and soon-to-be-disaffected front. And, while we are at it, after his country-and-western-style shuffle the Dear Leader is also facing difficulties on the Dublin front.

Ironically, it is departures rather than appointments (or the lack of female ones) that may present Mr Kenny with his biggest difficulty. The Coalition might have been celebrating when the original Troika left last December but Mr Kenny now has to also deal with the fallout from the departure of the very different Troika of Phil Hogan, Alan Shatter and James Reilly.

When it comes to corralling the Fine Gael party sheep Enda may be hoping Cute Old Phil will turn his Brussels pad into the down-town office of the Fine Gael HQ.

One suspects, alas, that once he becomes Monsieur le plus grand Commissioner with a le plus grand salary, the siren song of Brussels will soon distract Phil from the parochial concerns of the Fine Gael party.

Of course, Enda did manage to save 'Big Jim' by the skin of his 'chinny chin chin'.

But, Mr Reilly is now merely a political ghost who serves only to remind us of the danger of hubris.

Significantly, he is also a whispering reminder of the cruel reality where a Taoiseach's line of political credit can swiftly turn into a worthless chit.

Indeed, some hopefuls are already musing that nothing epitomises the setting of the Taoiseach's political sun more than the rise of Leo and the eclipse of Reilly to the dark side of the political moon.

But, we are being a little previous in that regard.

Of course, all taoisigh lose ministers but the disappearance of his retinue is significant, given the similarity that exists between 'King Enda's' style of governance and a royal court.

Intriguingly, like all royal courts Mr Kenny's school of governance has been authoritarian and centred around protecting the king above all other issues.

The problem with the courtly system, however, is that when the country is sick the solution people generally choose is to chop off the head of the king. This reality means even the most powerful of kings, and Dear Leader Enda assuredly is not that, need allies and a retinue.

And this is particularly the case in a country where Dear Leader Enda's failure to lead a 'democratic revolution' means he could be at the edges of a very different revolution.

Suddenly, if we factor in the loss of Enda's wise old consigliere, Frank Flannery, it's getting very lonely at the top for 'King Enda'. The Dear Leader might have escaped to his summer residence just before the reshuffle rumblings reached a dangerous pitch.

However, while all the backbench rabbits are down in their burrows, the Taoiseach's failure to be seen 'amongst women' has left a lingering after-taste in the political ether. .

Unease and fear is now rife within a party that is genuinely wondering has Kenny, courtesy of his 'Flynnstone' blunder, already cost Fine Gael the forthcoming general election.

The Dear Leader might be safe for now, but, when he comes back in the autumn the best advice we can give is to mind your head, mate. They're waiting for you.

Sunday Independent

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