Thursday 29 September 2016

A laurel-less leader can't sit on his laurels

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

'Wittingly or otherwise, Mr Kenny has also pulled the trigger on the election starting gun, despite the fact that there is an awful lot of governing still to be done'
'Wittingly or otherwise, Mr Kenny has also pulled the trigger on the election starting gun, despite the fact that there is an awful lot of governing still to be done'

In politics a man can only stumble for so long before he either falls on his face or stands up straight.

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Yesterday Taoiseach Enda Kenny attempted to regain a foothold on reality which, even making allowances for the silly season, seemed to have been lost with the comments by Paul Kehoe on his leader's prospects of remaining at the helm in perpetuity.

Recognising the absurdity of the 'Endless Enda' proposition, Mr Kenny acknowledged: "It would be very arrogant and presumptuous of any public representative to assume that they can be elected to anything, myself included, until the people vote."

He nonetheless recommitted himself to leading a Fine Gael/Labour government. While not quite "arrogant", many would still see re-election as being on the rosy side of optimistic, given his party's current standing, let alone that of Labour.

Wittingly or otherwise, Mr Kenny has also pulled the trigger on the election starting gun, despite the fact that there is an awful lot of governing still to be done.

There is clearly a range of obstacles in the path if a return to power is to be negotiated.

The Government continues to leak credibility on Irish Water. There is a crisis in the health service and the shortage of housing makes three such obstacles that readily come to mind.

There is also the widespread feeling that the economic recovery has favoured the few and many are failing to feel an improvement in their circumstances since the crash.

Mr Kenny was confronted starkly by this yesterday when he was asked to comment on the fact that there has been a 55pc increase in the number of homeless families in the country since last year.

Mr Kenny said:"No matter who is in Government, and no matter what you do, unless you deal with the scale of supply of housing, you cannot deal with this problem effectively."

But it does very much matter who is in Government, and it just so happens that the privilege has been Mr Kenny's over the last number of years.

The buck, and the political bucket-list for this Government, stops with him.

Remembering a low point for all humanity

In his book 'The Cold War, A History,' Martin Walker wrote: "Fifty years after the first use of atomic weapons, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain unique and poignant shrines to the inspiring fact that they have no successor." Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, a date which marked the high point for nuclear technology and a low point for all humanity. The historian noted that the Cold War "was managed and resolved without that nuclear war which lurked in the monstrous imminence in silos and submarines around the globe".

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has again renewed his commitment to a nuclear-weapons-free Japan.

As leader of the only nation in the world to have suffered a war-time nuclear attack, he vowed to play a leading role in pursuing a world without nuclear weapons.

The menace of such weapons is a constant threat that must always be monitored.

For this reason, the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never be forgotten. As the anti-nuclear campaigner Henri J Nouwen put it: "One of the most tragic facts of our century is that this 'No' to nuclear weapons has been spoken so seldom, so softly, and by so few."

Irish Independent

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