Wednesday 23 October 2019

Behind it all everyone really loved Enda, even if they forced him out...

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the report ‘Finite Lives Dying, Death and Bereavement’ in Government Buildings. Photo: Tony Gavin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the report ‘Finite Lives Dying, Death and Bereavement’ in Government Buildings. Photo: Tony Gavin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

And now he's gone, they love him all the more. In fact, they love him so much, why don't they keep him?

The tributes flowed effusively from the ministers, backbenchers, staff and even Opposition TDs who mingled on the plinth in the aftermath of the big announcement.

Leo Varadkar dispatched an email from the Department of Social Protection press office telling reporters that Enda Kenny "has been an extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever".

Simon Coveney said he "has been a towering figure in modern Irish history" who put in a "relentless work-rate [that] led our party back from defeat and to sustained electoral success".

The note arrived from a 'CoveneyCampaign' email.

Remember the time Shane Ross said Mr Kenny was a "political corpse"? Well now that he is actually leaving the stage, Mr Ross believes the Mayo TD "has proven to be a true statesman who has always had the interests of the country at his core".

Read More: An exit rich in metaphors and emotion as Enda finally shuffles off the political stage

Even Denis Naughten, who had a very public falling out with Mr Kenny after he quit Fine Gael, reckoned he had made Ireland "economically stronger and socially fairer ...for all".

In fact, the only person who spoke ill of Mr Kenny yesterday was Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who said he entered in crisis and left in crisis. The media rightly retaliated to the bitterness with questions about when Mr Adams might consider stepping down himself.

It must have been strange for Mr Kenny to watch the praise roll in. As Taoiseach and party leader he has spent much of his time batting away criticism from all sides.

All week, Leinster House has been filled with speculation as to what might happen if he didn't set a date.

Some believed the knives would come out, others reckoned Varadkar and Coveney would have to ask him nicely to go away.

Such was his determination to keep up the pretence that all was normal, Mr Kenny sat through half an hour of Senator Marie Louise O'Donnell talking about nice ways to die yesterday.

On several occasions, he attempted to make a bolt for the door but the audience kept asking his Seanad appointee questions. He was too polite to just get up and leave, even though the clock was ticking towards his 4.30pm appointment with destiny.

He arrived at the parliamentary party for a 4.37pm start, said his bit and made a swift exit. He asked that there be no statements from the floor, leaving just party chairman Martin Heydon to thank him for "his remarkable service to our country and our party".

Mr Kenny has defied the theory that all political careers end in failure.

There's no doubt that the manner of his exit was his own doing, even if the timing was not.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section