Wednesday 17 January 2018

Kenny insists leadership woes are 'history'

Conor Kane

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny last night greeted grassroot loyalists and rebels alike and insisted his leadership woes were "history".

Attending the first party selection convention since last week's unsuccessful challenge by Richard Bruton, Mr Kenny grinned like a man who can afford to be -- or pretend to be -- magnanimous as the party tried to present a united front.

The five-seater constituency is one which Fine Gael is targeting for a gain at the next election and sitting TD Phil Hogan -- credited with masterminding the leader's successful rebuff of Mr Bruton -- has been joined on the ticket by Senator John Paul Phelan, who was one of the first high-profile members to declare against Mr Kenny.

There were plenty of sarcastic comments and dark mutterings in advance of the convention and sheepish smiles and awkward handshakes were top of the agenda last night.

"That's the photo they're all looking for," said Mr Kenny on arrival -- over an hour late -- as he shook hands with the candidate who, just two weeks ago, was publicly declaring "no confidence" in the leader.

As they posed together for the cameras, it was arms-around-each-other time for the candidates and their dear leader.


"What's in your left hand, John Paul?" the senator was asked as his hand disappeared behind Mr Kenny's back. "It's a pen," the senator maintained.

Not a knife then.

On the other shoulder, Mr Hogan smiled serenely like the man who backed the winner of the last at Gowran Park.

Asked how he felt about a candidate who had voted against him, the Fine Gael leader said the party had "three outstanding candidates" in the constituency, in Mr Hogan, Mr Phelan and Carlow GAA chairman Pat Deering.

Mr Kenny added he would announce his new frontbench towards the end of next week.

"We've had a decision made by the Fine Gael parliamentary party. That's now history and we're moving on.

"We'll put our case to the people and we will win the next election, I've no doubt."

Irish Independent

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