Monday 21 January 2019

Going good for FG . . . and Kenny is setting the pace

Aidan O'Connor

WHATEVER about Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny has good reason to be worried; it's as if George Lee is fast becoming the most popular man in Fine Gael.

In Killarney, the troops gathered to greet him before blitzing the town with European candidate Sean Kelly and local election candidates. But the talk seemed to hinge more on Boy George in Dublin South than on the party leader.

Spring

The Lee factor has injected a spring into the Fine Gael step. Enda tore through Killarney like a dose of salts. Few could keep pace, except Sean Kelly.

For a relative newcomer to the game, the former GAA President is taking to politics with relative ease. Any initial blip over his friendship with Michael Lowry seems to have gone away.

A shopkeeper offers the hand to Enda: "I've voted Fianna Fail all my life and now I'm voting Fine Gael, and so are all the family." The troops let off a cheer. "Did you get that? Be sure and put that in the paper," one councillor orders.

But another steps in: "He won't. 'Tis a Fianna Fail biro he has."

There's no doubt where Enda Kenny's political heart lies when it comes to his two candidates for Ireland South. The party's sitting MEP is Colm Burke from Cork, but Kenny has a soft spot for the GAA man. And anyway, they're half related; Enda's wife is a first-cousin to Sean Kelly.

So with a regular clap on the back for the tiring candidates, Kenny sweeps through the town. It's nearly all positive feedback, except for one.

"Where's all the money gone Enda?" a lady asks. "Fianna Fail blew it," Enda explains. But she doesn't give up that easy. "Tell me where's all the money Enda, and Sean will get my vote." Kelly lets Enda do the party political broadcast. She's not convinced.

The Fine Gael grassroots feeling is that Kelly is a racing cert -- but at Colm Burke's expense. What's more, they're even talking about him giving Fianna Fail's Brian Crowley a run for his money. Were Kelly to even go near that, the Kilcummin man could quickly become as revered as George Lee. Well, not quite.

The councillors and local election candidates soon quit trying to keep pace with Enda. "He's like a bullet out of a gun", one quips. But not Sean Kelly. He remains welded to Enda's hip for a solid hour-and-a-half.

The Fine Gael leader even finds time to stayover. At a fraction of the canvass pace, he strolls around at the Killarney races. Whatever about his luck in the 5.15 in Killarney, he's getting odds-on back in Dublin: Boy George in the 5.06 in Dublin South.

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