Thursday 27 October 2016

Week of low farce gets even worse for Kenny

Published 09/07/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Tom Burke

When a government reaches a certain level of dysfunction, it is remembered more for how it mismanages crises than anything else. If there is one over-riding and incontrovertible truth in politics, it is that change is the only certainty. It is the failure to accept this that brings an element of low farce to the ending of even the surest of political careers.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny could soon find himself tumbling through a trapdoor in an undignified exit as someone other than himself pulls the lever. By any stretch, what was already a bad week became much worse yesterday, with the absurd situation of his own chief whip urging him to spell out when he plans to quit for the sake of the party.

This is not the stuff of statecraft. In the wake of the greatest economic threat the State has faced in decades, we are being treated to Borat-style politics.

Yesterday, the business of the Dáil was delayed for 40 minutes because there was not a quorum in the chamber.

Meanwhile, speaking on LMFM, Chief Whip Regina Doherty was telling the country: "It is important the Taoiseach clarifies the process for him stepping aside as Fine Gael leader."

Earlier in the week due to his own ineptitude, Mr Kenny was administered an icy putdown by Arlene Foster, and he also raised the hackles of many within his own ranks by re-appointing James Reilly as his deputy.

Once Mr Kenny signalled that he would not be leading his party in the next election, he became part of the past, not the future. He also loosened his grip on authority - those whom he championed began to hedge their bets, and those whom he snubbed now smell blood in the water, as the latest opinion poll suggests that not only has the public forgiven Fianna Fáil for the crash, they are far more electable than Fine Gael. Even his most loyal supporters will now wonder about the safety of their seats. The longer Mr Kenny clings on, the more precarious they become.

It was Bill Clinton who noted that: "People are more impressed by the power of our example, rather than the example of our power..." Mr Kenny still has the power to set an example. He should use it while he still can.

Reducing racial tensions in US is now imperative

America once more finds itself mourning gun carnage, awakening new concerns about simmering racial tensions and the proliferation of weapons.  

The country was already struggling to cope with the shooting of two more black victims by police officers - one in Minneosta and another in Louisiana - when it awoke yesterday to the news that five policemen had been murdered by sniper fire. The attacks left seven more seriously wounded. The cold and calculated, almost execution-style, precision of the sniper fire has sent a shudder through the US. President Obama described the murders as "a despicable attack on law enforcement". It is too early to attempt to guess at motivations. Police say one suspect wished to kill white people, avenging the deaths of innocent black citizens in police encounters elsewhere. Dallas's police chief, David Brown, spoke for most when he said: "This must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens." These senseless killings will repulse all civilised people. The only way to confront such attacks is to strengthen the resolve to reduce racial tension and build trust. President Obama's calls for curbs on weapons have failed to make an impression, despite so many recent mass shootings. The bitter truth of Quentin R Bufogle's words needs to be heard: "Remember, guns don't kill: the dimwits who insist everyone should have the right to own 'em do."

Irish Independent

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