Monday 5 December 2016

In front of every great woman, stands a highly fortunate man

First wives are dragged into the fray whether they want to be or not, says Eilis O’Hanlon, so they might as well speak up

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

POWER COUPLE: Enda Kenny and his wife, Fionnuala O’Kelly, who was Fianna Fail’s press secretary for much of the 1980s
POWER COUPLE: Enda Kenny and his wife, Fionnuala O’Kelly, who was Fianna Fail’s press secretary for much of the 1980s

There are many reasons to criticise the Taoiseach, but giving Fionnuala O’Kelly a “big role” in helping him decide who gets what job in the coming Cabinet reshuffle, as Fine Gael insiders revealed last week, isn’t one of them.

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It would be extraordinary if Enda Kenny didn’t take his wife’s views on board. O’Kelly has been at his side for more than 20 years, and she was very much a political animal even before that, having been Fianna Fail’s press secretary for much of the Haughey-dominated 1980s — hardly a job for cissies. When it comes to who’s in and who’s out of favour, O’Kelly has been there, done that and got the bloody T-shirt. She was in the heart of Fianna Fail when such power struggles were more like the Night of the Long Knives. Enda would be mad not to heed her advice.

If anything, it’s a relief to know that powerful people still take comfort from political pillow talk. It makes them look almost human. In most cases, anyway. There seems to be a marked distinction between couples who are indulged when they behave like this and those who are lampooned.

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