Friday 23 March 2018

All over bar the voting as Kenny has last dash around town

Enda Kenny speaks to homeless man David Murphy in Athlone Photo: Gerry Mooney
Enda Kenny speaks to homeless man David Murphy in Athlone Photo: Gerry Mooney
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

"I'm back among my own people," Enda Kenny says to his wife Fionnuala. After three weeks, a 20-county tour, and countless handshakes, the Taoiseach is home in Castlebar where he will vote this morning.

The Kennys take the chance for a 15-minute stroll, hand-in-hand, around Lough Lannagh, before one last canvas.

Into the shopping centre and Mr Kenny has a chat with Danielle Molloy (5) as Gaeilge. On to The Tara Cafe and he gives staff member Michelle Gibbons a peck on the cheek at the door.

"I got a big kiss off him", she tells her colleagues behind the counter. He asks another woman for her vote. "What's on tomorrow?" she asks laughing. "You know very well," Mr Kenny replies.

In his office Mr Kenny introduces Kathleen Coady.

"She's managed the office for years. Her late husband used to drive me, Liam. We were very good friends for many years."

There's a cheer and applause when Mr Kenny opens the Coady family pub door on Linenhall street.

"Home at last", Mr Kenny - who's in buoyant mood declares.

"There he is, one of the all time great GAA men," he says when he spots Willie Kelly, who refereed in Mr Kenny's footballing days. Then it's off for a high-octane march around town.

Bookies, local newspaper offices, sportswear shops, boutiques, all get a visit and chats with staff. He enters Atlantis - a shop that sells items like incense and dream catchers.

He spots a photograph of a bear on the way out. "A grizzly," he says, adding mischievously: "Adams". There's beeping cars and shouts of good luck Enda as he bounds around town.

One man heckles, "what are you going to do about child poverty?" "A lot, I hope," the Taoiseach replies.

Earlier in Athlone, a homeless man approached Mr Kenny seeking his help while a shop owner asked him why he hadn't reduced the VAT rate for clothes.

It hasn't been plain sailing on the campaign. There have been gaffes, the most infamous of which was Mr Kenny's remarks about 'whingers' in Castlebar. He later apologised and said he was referring to Fianna Fáilers.

And indeed, as Mr Kenny is on his walkabout a car full of Lisa Chambers supporters are circling the block using a loud-hailer to encourage votes for Fianna Fáil. It's all over bar the voting. Time's up.

Irish Independent

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