Thursday 22 February 2018

It's not business as usual for Enda, it's business with added vigour... and his very own human shield

Alan Farrell Picture: Tom Burke
Alan Farrell Picture: Tom Burke
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

With the chat drying up, we were reduced to the humiliation of searching for hidden messages. Rune stones, letters etched in the sand, the breadcrumbs dropped from Enda's pocket.

Any indication of intent would suffice. But the drawbridge had officially been pulled up - though the flag still fluttered defiantly from the top turret.

If Trump is looking for his wall, the Taoiseach has a handy mobile one that he won't be needing himself for very much longer, so it'll probably be up on DoneDeal after all this is over.

Flanked by hordes of people, he arrived at Dublin Castle for the All-Ireland Civic Dialogue on Brexit forum in the morning.

Surrounded by an equal shield of bodies as he arrived at Microsoft for a major jobs announcement in the afternoon, Enda was unreachable, a small dot at the cosy centre of the maelstrom.

He could have crowd-surfed like a rockstar over a sea of rabid fans without hitting the ground once.

We couldn't tell where all these people had materialised from. Were they extras from a casting agency?

They surely could not be all staff? Mind you, there were no less than two press secretaries - though Enda absolutely, adamantly wasn't answering any press queries from the centre of his living fortress.

Outside Dublin Castle, someone ventured a query about how he was feeling. "Absolutely fantastic," enthused Enda, waving an arm.

"Will your own backbenchers be as happy to see you next week?" asked a radio reporter on the way out of Microsoft. No answer - just another wave of an arm, more stentorian this time.

But look! Here was a message from Enda written in his own handwriting and displayed via software on a monitor at the computer giant's Sandyford HQ.

We perused it with unseemly eagerness:

"Welcome is Microsoft. Fáilte do Micro. Táimíd ag deanamh é seo go tapaidh."

'We are doing it quickly' had to be code for a rapid transfer of power?

But no. Enda just meant he had completed the demonstration quickly. How disappointing.

There was plenty in the speech itself to be going on, as he welcomed the 500 new jobs, with Ireland selected by Microsoft to be one of four global Inside Sales Centres, servicing Europe, Middle East and Africa. An extra 100 jobs will be created across its existing operations. It was good news in a week when good news was pretty thin on the ground, politically speaking.

Read More: The Kenny rebel count grows - as the others wait on

Enda commended the "power and enthusiastic exuberance of the workforce here". The staff beamed at his praise at how they were "not merely thinking about the future but creating it".

He referred to the Spanish Armada, claiming some had stayed to marry Irish women, suggesting the company's staff from overseas might do the same.

"That's the way it is," he said with a comic shrug.

The workers laughed uproariously.

In short, they loved him.

Actually, Enda's message was loud and clear.

Not only is it business as usual, but it is business with added vigour and stamina.

Brexit and 1,540 jobs announced in the past week. The highs and the lows. No time to stop. Certainly no time to consider resignation.

A source said the Taoiseach is in "great form" and is determined to go out on a high.

"You have to look at who is driving this," said the source.

"It's anyone without a job. No minister is looking for him to go."

But the wheels were moving steadily.

Later, Alan Farrell, the Fingal TD, fired the first official shot across the bow, calling on him to "step aside and allow a new leader, with a fresh approach, to lead us into the future."

The minority Government has been shown to be a fragile one, he warned.

Read More: Indulging in an over-long 'goodbye period' would cause far too many big problems for the country

They had come close to an election three times - and should be ready for an election "at any time".

As "the co-author of a recent internal party report", Mr Farrell suggested he was "very much in tune with the feelings and position of our membership right across the country".

Party insiders have called for Enda to be 'given space' but the movement is fast gathering space and is now an unstoppable force. First, they will have to wrestle the keys of Enda's human fortress from his unyielding hand.

Irish Independent

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