Monday 23 October 2017

End of the all-star Kenny dream team

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

IT took Enda Kenny eight years to build his dream team but only one day to see it fall apart when more than half his star players walked off the pitch.

When those nine key frontbench TDs walked on to the Leinster House plinth yesterday afternoon, 'Team Enda' died and a new team of rebels was born.

Since becoming leader in 2002, Mr Kenny has always prided himself in his chairman rather than chieftain status -- pitching himself as a manager who divides responsibility among his loyal lieutenants.

During the post-mortems that would follow opinion polls showing a slump in Mr Kenny's personal popularity ratings, the Fine Gael leader would point to the all-star team he was building.

"This is not about me. This is about my leading and building the Fine Gael team and my strategy is to make that team the strongest in the next Dail," he said in November 2008.

Seeming to recognise his weaknesses as a chief lieutenant, Mr Kenny's conference slogan that same year read: "New Team, Ready to Govern."

His team, he claimed, were a group of "practical professionals and driven idealists who are expert, eager and committed".

And often, when one of Mr Kenny's starting 11 was called upon to defend the manager's dismal popularity ratings, they too would use the buzz word of "team".

The sacked finance spokesman, Richard Bruton, has previously defended Mr Kenny as a "great team leader" who had built a "team that is united" behind him.

Clinging to that team in a bid to boost his popularity ratings, Mr Kenny took many of his frontbench on a nationwide tour last year -- led by their then new darling, George Lee.

The economic guru was a core part of the aggressive team the manager was building for a general election assault and victory -- before he limped off the pitch and refused to play on.

While Mr Kenny was ever improving and encouraging that team, drawing on their expertise and using them to defend his poll ratings, his ambitious players were starting to worry about their future careers and their chance at being ministers.

In his statement announcing the sacking of Mr Bruton this week, Mr Kenny again referred to his revered team.

"I have worked patiently and sensitively to bind the party into a cohesive and united team and I am very disappointed that a small number of colleagues are determined to bring Fine Gael back to those bad old days," Mr Kenny said.

Next he effectively announced that "Team Enda" would be dismantled next week with "personnel changes" coming on foot of this week's confidence vote.

If he survives until next Monday, a new 'Team Enda' will be unveiled but it will be without the stars that he has so long relied upon to boost his own popularity and credibility.

The All-Star Enda Kenny dream team is no more.

Irish Independent

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