Thursday 22 February 2018

Kenny pledges to 'up his game'

Fine Gael leader apologises for poor 'Late Late' interview

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny has promised his party that he will "up his game" after admitting responsibility for some poor performances in the media.

He made the comments at a meeting of his party's frontbench last week after struggling at times during two recent interviews -- one with Ryan Tubridy on 'The Late Late Show' and the other on Newstalk radio.

Mr Kenny did not refer to either interview directly but delivered a brief apology to frontbenchers.

The Fine Gael leader admitted he had messed up and said it was like a football match -- "you have to up your game when you have a bad day".

Mr Kenny had difficulty dealing with the question of going into coalition with Sinn Fein on 'The Late Late Show'; and while on Newstalk, he was flummoxed by a question on whether his party would bring in water charges. But his opening remarks at the meeting surprised the frontbenchers, who had not raised the issue of his performance in either interview.

Having got his apology out of the way, Mr Kenny continued with the meeting last week and said no more on the matter. A combination of Fianna Fail's bounce in the opinion polls and Mr Kenny's lacklustre displays has prompted criticism in certain quarters in Fine Gael.


Mr Kenny is to hold one-to-one meetings with all his TDs and senators, which his office says is to help gear up the party for the year ahead.

There is speculation within Fine Gael that he could announce a frontbench reshuffle this year -- which could create an opportunity for new Dublin South TD George Lee to be promoted.

Fine Gael education spokesman Brian Hayes said there was "no issue" about Mr Kenny's leadership in the party. He said there was near-unanimous support for Mr Kenny, although he admitted that in a large parliamentary party it was hard to keep everyone happy.

"I think we need to concentrate on the bigger picture, which is attacking the Government for the mess they have made of the economy rather than attacking our own," Mr Hayes said.

Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe said Mr Kenny had done an incredible job and turned the fortunes of the party around.

"I'm convinced he's going to continue that work and get us to where we need to go, which is winning the next general election," he said.

Mr Donohoe, who ran in the Dublin Central by-election last year, said the country needed a leader with different qualities after previously electing one on the basis of image and media appearances.

"Dare I mention an anorak? The true measure of a politician is when they are in government," he said.

Irish Independent

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