Friday 28 October 2016

Enda's penchant for folklore could cost him the election

Published 30/10/2015 | 02:30

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

So do the regular citizens really care if Enda Kenny is not as tight as he should be about various statements of detail?

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Like so many things in politics, the answer is a definite maybe. Sure, political opponents and carping journalists nitpicking about whether or not the army were on standby to defend ATMs in 2011 may well be just an interesting detail.

If this Government can show they have delivered an extra tenner take-home to middle Ireland, few enough people will remember Mr Kenny struggling to provide evidence for his "story of Ireland on the brink of monetary apocalypse".

That is what his many loyal defenders will tell you right now. Others will recall the much-loved Albert Reynolds's line in November 1994, as he was forced to resign as Taoiseach, that "it is the little ones that get you".

Enda Kenny's 35-year journey from Islandeady in Mayo to Government Buildings was littered with doubt. Even those who were very supportive struggled sometimes, over the years, to actually see him as the leader of the nation. He shares the same disregard as there was for Bertie Ahern when he first emerged as a potential Taoiseach.

In both cases the defenders were strong on asserting "boarding school snoots and the D4 set" as proponents of good old-fashioned snobbery.

This petty snobbery is alive and well and flourishes in many parts of the country. There is a certain clique in the metropolis, and other larger centres, who are vastly more parochial than many in what would, at first glance, be rated our far-flung and more isolated places. Their self-reverence, combined with their self-reference, renders them extremely isolated.

Yes, we must continue to welcome hard statistics about economic turnabout which happened on his watch as Taoiseach, with a cut in unemployment, the eventual arrest of emigration, and leading our EU neighbours with economic growth. This quantifiable progress must be acknowledged.

But there are other elements attaching to a leader's credibility. Last week he told the European People's Party conference in Madrid that during the banking crisis he was being warned by Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan that the Government might have to call mobilise the army to protect banks and ATMs if a feared currency meltdown happened.

By Wednesday of this week and yesterday, the sound of his feet strongly tippy-tippy-toeing away from such assertions could be heard across the nation. Mr Kenny has conceded he was not in fact specifically warned that the army was needed to protect the nation's cash machines. Right so.

Mr Kenny favours public communications based on the US politicians maxim: "don't tell - show".

Thus, he does folksy parables which are supposed to illustrate his message. In this way, he likes to let Paddy know what the story is. But this folklore foray is a warning: repeats could be costly. They could cost him the next election.

Irish Independent

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