Tuesday 17 October 2017

It's time for Kenny to engage with electorate

Kenny's engagement with the voter inevitably falls flat
Kenny's engagement with the voter inevitably falls flat


In order to lead the orchestra it is understood that the conductor must turn their back on the crowd, but at some point there is a necessary acknowledgement of the audience. And this is where Taoiseach Enda Kenny finds himself in trouble. Despite having delivered the highest growth figures in years, and taking the economy off life support, his stewardship is widely being regarded as less than the sum of its parts.

His engagement with the voter inevitably falls flat. He has not helped himself with his handling of the Fennelly Report. However he might present his case, the gap between his account and public perception is too broad, and perception matters.

With an election pact on the horizon with Labour, he yesterday refused to commit to a referendum on the Eighth Amendment. This, of course, means revisiting the massively divisive issue of abortion. This is a red-button issue for his Coalition partners. A side-step will not suffice. Then there were the absurd comments about Isil and New Grange. At some point there has to be a realisation that import is attached to what one actually says, as opposed to what one intended to say. Getting this wrong repeatedly drains credibility. Leaders are supposed to create more leaders and not just followers, but in Mr Kenny's case there may be one too many breathing down his neck for comfort. Certainly the noises coming out of his party's Adare "think-in" were less than collegial on the subject of their boss.

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