Saturday 20 January 2018

Kenny haunted by the ghosts of elections past

Fiach Kelly

ENDA KENNY was haunted last night. Haunted by governments past, haunted by paintings depicting flame-brandishing hordes and haunted by Fine Gael's own Banquo.

Amid the chest-beating and gleeful Fianna Fail bashing at the start of Fine Gael's national conference in Killarney, the ghost of Dublin South floated through the Malton Hotel.

But a confident Enda, the Thane of Castlebar, came to bury the knife in the memory of Gorgeous George and help his party get over the painful soul searching that followed the RTE man's resignation last month.

George, whose shock move looked like it might have done for Enda as leader at one stage, wasn't a topic on many lips. But he would surely have been the star attraction at what would have been his first national hooley with Fine Gael.

It wasn't only George who haunted Enda in Kerry. As he stepped into the hotel to greet his party's grassroots, there was the ghost of the Bert. A plaque on the wall outside the hotel informed visitors Bertie had been here once to unveil, eh, a plaque, to mark the hotel's 150th anniversary.

The Fine Gael leader could then step into the sumptuous lobby and head towards the roaring fireplace near the bar.

If he looked up, he may have spotted the ghost of general elections yet to come.

For there hangs a lovely watercolour of Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae and his Kerry South organisation. The fine piece depicts the famous 2007 election march through Killarney when Jackie strutted through an honour guard of his followers holding burning sods of turfs aloft in the night sky. Depending on what way the votes fall next time around, Enda could yet rely on the Healy-Rae machine to prop him up.

But Jackie's fellow south Kerry TD, Tom Sheahan, was on hand to introduce his leader to the adoring hall.

Here was Enda, the next Taoiseach, Tom bellowed. And Enda stepped forward to regale us with tales of cycling around the Kingdom. But the 'New Enda' quickly hit his stride as he threw the masses some red meat -- Brian Cowen, Fianna Fail, banks, and Anglo Irish.

They lapped it up. Most hoped New Enda who appeared after Georgegate, the one who riled Brian Cowen in the Dail, was here to stay.

Irish Independent

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