Saturday 24 September 2016

Fine Gael can no longer ignore Kenny problem

Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Photo: Colin Keegan / Collins Dublin
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Photo: Colin Keegan / Collins Dublin

If success really was as Churchill put it - "a stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm" - then Taoiseach Enda Kenny would be walking on air. Buoyed by the summer's break, he has come back with a new zest for leading his party. At their meeting in Newbridge, Co Kildare, Fine Gael were discussing the failures that led to a haemorrhaging of seats.

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Yet, curiously, the elephant in the room, while not discussed, would command the agenda. Put plainly, Mr Kenny lost 26 seats and only scraped over the line to form a Government after the most torturous tightrope walking act in political memory. That rope is unravelling alarmingly.

As Fine Gael is reviewing its problems, it can no longer look past Mr Kenny. The party failed to connect with the public. Mr Kenny did not bond. From early on, it was clear that his "recovery" message was wrong and would not resonate, but Mr Kenny blundered on.

Bad judgment, a degree of hubris and dim political insight found the party that rescued the country from economic disaster at the wrong end of an electoral bludgeoning. It may not be fair, but politics isn't.

Mr Kenny has carved his name into the annals of his party for being the first to deliver back-to-back victories.

And as already mentioned, he was an able lieutenant in following the orders of the Troika. He is also father of the Dáil and has earned respect at many levels, but he is not indispensable. Having signalled his intention to go some time back, he has put neither the interests of the country nor of his own party first, by now claiming he will be around for another two years.

According to FG MEP Brian Hayes, he is anxious to show that he has taken on board the message from the voters.

The message from the voters, unfortunately for Mr Kenny, was that he was rejected. It is a blunt and bitter truth, but Mr Kenny's staying will cost his party votes. This may well be inimical to the notion of a united party at one with itself and foursquare behind its leader, but so be it. Mr Kenny's fresh zeal for fulfilling his "mandate" will have many in the Blueshirt officer class clutching at their temples. It will also have many within the ranks of the Soldiers of Destiny raising a glass to his remaining.

Power cannot be held by pretense.

Maths teaching must be consistent across schools

Someone once quipped that lotteries are nothing but a tax on the mathematically challenged. Well, whatever one's feelings may be about lotteries, the teaching of mathematics can never be treated as one, given its vital importance to the curriculum and its central place in education.

That is why the news that there are such huge variations in the amount of time second-level students spend in maths classes is a concern.

The research suggests that some students could be put at particular disadvantage through receiving as much as 26pc less maths tuition than others.

The revelation comes in a new report which has identified what it has described as a "substantial inequity" in teaching the subject between schools.

According to Dr Niamh O'Meara, one of the authors of the study: "A small increase in time allocation can have a positive effect on student achievement."

It is impossible to defend the wide variations in the time spent on the subject. One of the key factors foreign companies have cited in locating in Ireland is the standard of education and the availability of a skilled work force. For this to be protected, the teaching of maths must be consistent and no child should ever be at a disadvantage.

Irish Independent

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