Wednesday 21 February 2018

Enda jets in to lift Eithne's by-election bid off the ground

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

"BE not afraid to talk to people about her." No, it's not a parish priest telling his flock to go out and preach about Mary, mother of God.

It's Taoiseach Enda Kenny, fresh off the plane from Brussels, imploring his team of canvassers to go and work for the Fine Gael candidate in Dublin West -- a woman who may also need divine intervention to make a name for herself.

For while Eithne Loftus is second favourite to take the seat formerly held by the late Brian Lenihan, Labour's Patrick Nulty is leading the pack by a long shot in the bookies. But Fine Gael is putting the word out that if voters want a government candidate, they should plump for Eithne.

After all, according to blueshirt whispers, Nulty is a roaring lefty who opposed going into coalition in the first place, and would disappear overboard at the first sniff of a spending cut.

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes, director of elections for Eithne, said Nulty was not even asking people to give their second preferences to Labour.

That's just not cricket when you're in coalition, old boy.

"You're either in Government or you're not," sniffed Brian on the canvass in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre yesterday.

Brian, Transport Minister and sitting FG Dublin West TD Leo Varadkar and Enda launched Eithne's campaign in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Blanchardstown yesterday

"There she is, see her picture, be not afraid to talk to people about her," said Enda before they walked across to the shopping centre.


Enda had just stepped off the plane from Brussels after his meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and was glad-handing mammies, grannies and babies.

Eithne Loftus, on the other hand, seemed to hover in the background and needed a gee-up from Brian Hayes to get involved.

"Where's Eithne? Get in there, Eithne!" he said as the Taoiseach harassed a woman hovering at a coffee shop.

The only disgruntled voter to have a go at the Taoiseach was Cathy Conlon, an EBS employee, and Eithne looked on as he took his ear bashing with grace.

Another voter had a go at Leo Varadkar over cuts to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown

"There is no question of it being closed," said Leo. "Every election Joe Higgins and Sinn Fein have been going around scaring people about that."

"Scaremongering!" chimed in Eithne from behind him.

Eithne indicated on television a few weeks ago that people should vote for her because Leo was too busy looking after cabinet issues. But Enda and Leo were having none of that.

"He's not too busy in Cabinet to look after Dublin West," the Taoiseach said. "He comes into cabinet meeting all in a fluster having had early morning meetings."

Leo said people shouldn't even be "slightly worried".

Back on the canvass, Eithne was still slightly floating behind the Taoiseach, and Brian Hayes wanted her in every shot with the boss.

"On the shoulder, the shoulder!" roared Brian.

Get up there Eithne, don't be shy.

Irish Independent

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