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Enda is an 'over-achieving Bertie-lite', claims Yates


Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Former minister Ivan Yates has described Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a "Bertie-lite", "old-school" leader who has achieved "way more than his talent would indicate".

Speaking on the 'Irish Independent Talks' stage at the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Yates told Irish Independent Group Political Editor Kevin Doyle that the fun and games are about to start in Irish politics as the political playing field heats up towards a General Election.

In typical tongue-in-cheek style, Mr Yates said: "He is very much of the old style of politics. He wakes up every morning and the first thing he thinks of is: 'What's the score in Castlebar?' He thinks like that... he is very much like that, old school.

"Enda Kenny has achieved way more than his talent would indicate and he deserves some credit for that. He's to some extent Bertie-lite, he has a lot of Bertie's people skills. He has enormous strength."

Mr Yates credited the Taoiseach's wife Fionnnuala with his success as a political leader.

"If I was to say what changed Enda Kenny, I would attribute it to his wife. He was happy-go-lucky, gregarious, social and not too pushy... but you must remember that Fionnuala his wife was the PR for Charlie Haughey, and she brought an edge and a discipline to him that transformed him, literally," he said.

"And I think she is very much the power behind Enda Kenny and I think that she very much wants him to be re-elected as Taoiseach because no Fine Gael leader has ever been re-elected as Taoiseach so that is a big issue for him."

Mr Yates said the Taoiseach's youthful looks are an asset, but he also earned praise form the fact that he "held his nerve" in the recession.

"He looks the same as he did 20 years ago. He still has his hair, he hasn't gone grey. He tends to get caught out sometimes in an impromptu situation when maybe he hasn't read the brief. During the worst period of austerity, he very much held his nerve."

"He has chaired Cabinet meetings in a very business-like manner, and he has maintained a Coalition... He hasn't had the kind of fractious interpersonal relations that other Taoisigh have had, like Albert Reynolds with Dick Spring."

The Newstalk presenter also believes that a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael coalition is "inevitable".

The Wexford native said very little divides the two political parties. "There will be a change in government. The only block that can form a government is Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Nothing divides them whatsoever, they have the same culture."

Irish Independent