Sunday 23 October 2016

Niall O'Connor: Kenny and his leadership back in the firing line after latest poll

Published 04/04/2016 | 02:30

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

From "political corpse" to "elephant in the room", Enda Kenny has been given more than his fair share of colourful descriptions since the dust settled on the election.

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Despite initial murmurs over his leadership in the days following the result, these voices of discontent have become more silent as the talks with the Independents continue.

Various ministers have referred to Mr Kenny's "work ethic" and "stamina" displayed over the past 38 days, pointing out that the Taoiseach refused to even take a post-election holiday.

But the spotlight being turned once again on Mr Kenny's leadership, prompted by yesterday's poll in the Sunday Independent, is the last thing Fine Gael wants ahead of talks with Fianna Fáil.

While the poll tells us what we already knew - that Mr Kenny has a popularity problem - its timing could not have been worse for the acting Taoiseach.

Firstly, it has created fresh doubt among Independent deputies, who may be leaning towards the blue corner ahead of Wednesday's vote.

One Independent TD said he is now less likely to vote for Mr Kenny as a result of the poll findings.

"It just came as a sharp reminder that he is damaged goods," the TD said.

Tipperary deputy Mattie McGrath said the findings reflected what he is hearing from constituents about Mr Kenny.

From Fianna Fáil's perspective, the party is buoyed by the fact significantly more voters favour Mr Martin for Taoiseach. But the prospect of the party seeking Mr Kenny's head on a plate, which has been considered in recent weeks, is no longer on the agenda.

Despite what Fine Gael figures are saying publicly, the process involving the Independents is one that is highly unlikely to produce a result.

"It will turn out to be a meaningful effort but ultimately naive. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil need to talk," said one senior figure involved in the negotiations.

The talking will finally takes place on Thursday when Mr Kenny sits across a table from a man way out in front - in the popularity stakes at least.

Irish Independent

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