Thursday 22 March 2018

Enda is the greatest asset -- for all the parties

The leadership we've got is no good and there are no alternatives. But at least it's nice out, says Brendan O'Connor

NO one, least of all Fine Gael, seems to have any idea what happened in Fine Gael last week. One thing we can say for sure is that Richard Bruton didn't scupper Enda Kenny, but the crowd they showed on the news celebrating in Castlebar might have.

The jubilant revellers in Castlebar were reminiscent of the good old days of Ballymagash. They had combovers to beat Ronan Keating but they clearly lacked Ronan's familiarity with the wonders of modern cosmetic dentistry. If you had tuned in at the wrong moment, you might have thought you were watching a particularly dull Nationwide report from an old folks home in the West. But no, we were assured, these were Enda's people, and yes, not one of them looked under 90.

As far as we can figure out it was The Irish Times wot started it. But there had been a feeling for a while that young Enda, shortly eligible for his bus pass, lacked the X Factor, the alleged charisma that a Taoiseach allegedly needs in this country. So for some bizarre reason, the so-called young Turks of FG (who, being middle-aged, are mere boys next to Enda) decided to fight this lack of charisma and youth with Richard Bruton, who seemingly embodies both these things (if you're in Fine Gael).

Over last weekend it became the worst-kept secret in town that Bruton, whose charisma, we learnt, was mainly down to the fact that he knows a bit about economics, was going to lead the young fogeys in a heave. Bruton and the other young Turks apparently expected Enda to take all this lying down and they got a bit of a shock when he didn't. First he fired Bruton and then, when the others had put it about that they were going to take him on at a meeting of the frontbench, he fired all of them as well. At this point the young fogeys appeared to run out of ideas and it seemed they wanted their Mammies. And poor little grey Richard Bruton's charisma seemed to wither fairly quickly as well.

It quickly became apparent that the heave was managing to achieve the impossible, something no one had ever managed to do before, which was to make Enda Kenny look good. Then, so we are told, Enda's henchmen went around making promises and threats among the Fine Gael parliamentary party until they got enough votes to keep their man in.

And then we were left in a most unusual position. Most people always thought that Enda wasn't exactly the best leader Fine Gael ever had. Now we knew that nearly half of Fine Gael's politicians thought the same thing, but astonishingly, they didn't seem to have anyone better.

The whole thing also left Enda in an astonishing position. Fianna Fail and Labour already regard him as their greatest asset, and now it appears that he is Fine Gael's greatest asset too. He is all things to all men, but people would rather pluck out their own eyeballs than see him as Taoiseach.

All in all, it's a depressing metaphor for the whole of Irish politics. The leadership we've got is no good, but there are no alternatives either. Still, at least it's sunny and we had a bit of a laugh.

Sunday Independent

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