Friday 23 March 2018

Enda sets his own Olympic pace on whistlestop tour

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Natty Wailer, ex-member of Bob Marley and the Wailers, presents a copy of his CD to the Taoiseach in Cavan, as local TD Joe O'Reilly, and local European candidate, Mairead McGuinness look on
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

FORGET whistleblowers, Enda Kenny is off on a whistlestop tour.

Cavan proved a good starting point for him during General Election 2011 so it was no surprise that he travelled back there to start on his new campaign trail.

Already by close of business last night he had ticked four counties, a music legend, tea and sandwiches and a policy announcement off the list.

And the omens were good. After a chance meeting with the musician Natty Wailer, of 'Bob Marley and the Wailers', which saw him presented with the musician's latest CD 'Destiny', Mr Kenny was hoping the signs augered well.

Wailer spends several months of the year in Ireland and was delighted to meet the Taoiseach. He even offered him some advice on how to improve his canvassing – sing a couple of songs.

In poetical form, Mr Kenny replied: "Music is the message of the soul," but admitted he'd rather bring Mr Wailer along to take care of the music.

After a brief chat with the musician, which included mention of Wailer's fellow countryman Usain Bolt, the Taoiseach set his own Olympic pace as he raced around the town, shaking hands with bemused passers-by before quickly continuing on with quick nips in and out of local shops.

The Taoiseach also took the opportunity to kiss the obligatory baby, hedging his bets with eight-month-old twins Fiadh and Oran.

Mr Kenny moved with such speed around the town that he walked right past his own party HQ Teach Fine Gael, despite the tell-tale poster for local council candidate Madeline Argue. But he quickly doubled back after prompts from his accompanying councillors, TD Joe O'Reilly and MEP Mairead McGuinness, who were all rushing to keep pace.

The Taoiseach's quick pace may have been as a result of the gruelling schedule which saw him canvass in five towns in four different counties throughout the afternoon. But it may also have been down to a bad start to the afternoon when a heckler interrupted his lunch at the Farnham Arms hotel and had to be escorted from the hotel by two local detectives.

While the mood on the ground was generally positive towards Mr Kenny, not everyone was pleased to see him. Local resident Breda Guilfoyle took the opportunity to criticise the closure of Cavan barracks.

"You are an absolute disgrace. I was very much into you but you let me down very badly and you lied so much," she hit out.

While the Taoiseach listened without comment, he drew the line at a joke about Sinn Fein.

When Ms Guilfoyle warned Mr Kenny "Hello Mary Lou, goodbye Dail", he quickly replied: "I'd be careful with Mary Lou if I were you."

Mr Kenny also made a quip about his relationship with Angela Merkel, whipping out his phone to call his German pal after one passerby informed him that he had been denied a vote in Ireland because he was German.

The Taoiseach started his day with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton at the launch of the new local enterprise offices in Mullingar.

But even there he was met with protests, as a group of up to 10 people shouted "shame" as he arrived at county buildings.

Despite repeated questions about water charges, Mr Kenny refused to give any indication on when a final agreement might be reached.

Irish Independent

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