Monday 23 October 2017

Election woes sparked the demise of Taoiseach's kitchen cabinet

Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins Newsdesk Newsdesk

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's chief of staff, a taciturn Kerryman, Mark Kennelly was once one of the most important people in Government Buildings. Not for much longer, however.

There was a time he was Kenny's eyes and ears, closest confidant and last line of defence. Access was strictly limited while Kennelly was at the height of his powers. But those days are coming to an end.

The average backbencher was rarely able to make known their views to the leader. For his protective role, Kennelly was begrudgingly respected by some and detested by others. Things have been different since the election, however. He has been stripped of his powers and these days in rarely seen around Leinster House.

Some senior figures in Fine Gael believe that Kenny has, rightly or wrongly, punished Kennelly for his prominent role in the disastrous election, in which the party haemorrhaged seats. "You never see him around any more," a minister said. Kennelly has been tasked with liaising with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's chef de cabinet Deirdre Gillane as part of the confidence and supply agreement.

While Gillane commands unwavering respect in Fianna Fail, Kennelly continues to face criticism in his new role. Ministers complain they still have to deal directly with their Fianna Fail counterparts as they do not receive briefings from Kennelly.

His relationship with Government press secretary Feargal Purcell is known to be strained. Now it seems more likely than not that both men will be obliged to pack their bags and depart with the boss.

Sunday Independent

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