Monday 19 March 2018

Taoiseach says Castlebar 'whingers' remark was referring to Fianna Fáil members in his hometown

Taoiseach Enda Kenny calls to see Ann ‘Nan’ Gibson (96) in Kilbaha, Co Clare. Photo: Barry Cronin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny calls to see Ann ‘Nan’ Gibson (96) in Kilbaha, Co Clare. Photo: Barry Cronin

Cormac McQuinn, Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he regrets "if offence was taken" after his remarks about 'whingers' in Castlebar and said he was referring to Fianna Fáil members in his hometown.

"This is a local issue," he said adding that he was not talking about ordinary members of the public.

He said there are members of the Fianna Fáil party "that constantly talk down their hometown".

He added: "if any offence was taken by the public I regret that."

"I wasn't referring to members of the public anywhere nor indeed in my own county or my own town."

"I was referring specifically to a number of full-time, professional politicians in the Fianna Fáil party who have constantly talked down their own town. Who constantly scaremonger," Mr Kenny said.

He later added: "Mea culpa... I should have clarified my remarks."

Mr Kenny was speaking to Billy McCarthy of WLR fm in Waterford City on this morning's Deise AM show.

He was asked if he expected to see any whingers in Waterford today.

"No, none," Mr Kenny replied.

Mr Kenny made the remarks at a Fine Gael rally in Castlebar on Saturday, and Fianna Fáil candidate for Mayo, Lisa Chambers, leapt at the opportunity to call for an "immediate apology".

Yesterday, the Taoiseach was at Loop Head lighthouse, Co Clare, launching his party's plans to boost tourist numbers to 10 million, when he was asked if he had regrets.

"No I don't," he replied, adding: "Some of them wouldn't know sunshine if they saw it."

Mr Kenny made the original comments after spending time canvassing in Castlebar. In a speech to supporters, he didn't hide his disappointment at some of the local response to his time in office.

"God knows we have some All-Ireland champions here in Castlebar... I mean the whingers that I hear every week, saying there's nothing happening," he said.

"Well, I want to assure them that the future is very bright. All we have to do is maintain the progress in terms of our economy. We'll look after our hospitals, we'll look after our schools, we'll look after our infrastructure."

Fianna Fáil's Ms Chambers said that Mr Kenny was "insensitive and out of touch".


Mr Kenny, however, was unapologetic at yesterday's rain-soaked Fine Gael campaign stop in Co Clare to pledge a €100m investment in tourism.

During the visit, he also met Ann Gibson (96) and told her about how his grandfather, James McGinley, was the local lighthouse keeper in the 1930s.

In recent days, Mr Kenny has given the 'Keep the recovery going' slogan fewer airings and is instead speaking of 'bringing the recovery to every home'.

Asked about the change, Mr Kenny said he isn't saying "everything is rosy in the garden. I know the challenge lies ahead- why do you think I'm doing this after 40 years?

"Why do you think we want to be in government again? - to continue to make decisions in the interests of the people.

"It's not wonderful and won't be until that recovery filters into every household in this country and that's our challenge...

"If you're not up for that challenge, then you shouldn't be in this job," he added.

Irish Independent

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