Tuesday 21 November 2017

No more heaves, insists Kenny

FG leader confident rivals 'not waiting in long grass'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

REBELS left out of the Fine Gael frontbench after yesterday's reshuffle will not seek revenge and mount another heave, leader Enda Kenny insisted last night.

Key members of the group that tried to install Richard Bruton as leader, such as Brian Hayes, Michael Creed, Olivia Mitchell and Denis Naughten, were dropped from the party's top team.

Mr Kenny said those he dropped would not be waiting in the "long grass" for him but added he hoped they would be "waiting in the wings of government".

"They performed well in terms of their work on the last frontbench," Mr Kenny said.

"I hope they'll be waiting in the wings of government. In the Fine Gael party for the future there is no long grass -- it was all cut a couple of weeks ago," he added.

Other dissident TDs such as Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar, Fergus O'Dowd, Charlie Flanagan and Mr Bruton himself were kept in the frontbench.

It was also widely speculated that Lucinda Creighton, the Dublin South-East TD who supported Mr Bruton, would be promoted, but she was left out.

Mr Kenny said Fine Gael was "a broad spectrum" and he couldn't appoint everyone in the party as a senior spokes-person.

"The fact that people are not here today, it may be a disappointment to some of them," he said.


He held out the unlikely scenario that those left out, who he had not spoken to about the reshuffle, could be considered for ministerial office if Fine Gael got into power.

"They will have their opportunity when Fine Gael achieves government to be considered at that level also.

"The fact that members are here means they serve their responsibilities between here and the next general election.

"I look forward to leading this team as the front-runners for Fine Gael as we enter the last lap of the period before the forthcoming general election.

"Before our eyes, the stability of this Government is unravelling. The anxiety and the concerns and the mistrust that is there is an indication that its days are numbered," Mr Kenny said.

But he dodged a question on whether he would step up his performances on the economy and instead pointed to his new economic team of Michael Noonan, who takes over the finance portfolio, Mr Bruton, enterprise spokesman, Mr Varadkar, communications, and John Perry, who will look after small businesses.

"Of course, I am going to take a greater role and I am going to lead by example," Mr Kenny said.

"At urban and outside urban areas we have a message to preach that is not confined merely to economic circumstances but the social difficulties that our people face and the circumstances they find themselves in because of mismanagement and incompetence.

"This is a team leadership, everybody's got a responsibility."

He also defended a U-turn he did on the IRA army council. During a visit to Belfast last week, he said FG could not serve in government with Sinn Fein because the army council had not been stood down.

But he told the Dail this week he accepted the "IRA and its army council are no more".

Mr Kenny yesterday said he would write to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, asking him to confirm the army council is "no longer relevant".

He wanted confirmation from Mr McGuinness that "the Sinn Fein party accepts that there is only one Oglaigh na hEireann and that is the Irish Army of the Irish Republic".

Irish Independent

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