Wednesday 22 November 2017

Shake-up or ship out for Enda Kenny as anger rises in FG

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

At a stormy Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last Wednesday, Enda Kenny told his TDs and senators that "significant ministerial change" is coming.

Confronted by over 30 angry TDs and senators, a rattled Taoiseach held up an imaginary substitutes' number board to illustrate his point that some of his ministers are set to be moved on.

Mr Kenny was speaking as the rising tide of anger at Health Minister James Reilly has reached a crescendo, with public calls from within Fine Gael for him to be sacked.

These calls in the wake of the discretionary medical card fiasco echo previous admissions from cabinet ministers like Ruairi Quinn to a private Labour Party meeting.

Mr Quinn told the meeting that backbench concerns that Dr Reilly was not up to the job were "shared by their cabinet colleagues".

Dr Reilly has long been a target of displeasure for his coalition partners, but the hammering suffered by both parties in last month's elections has brought his position into sharp focus.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has openly admitted that the three "own goals" that cost votes for the coalition parties were the medical cards, water charges and the Government's handling of the garda and Justice scandals.


His views have been strongly echoed by his colleagues this weekend, who are clearly fearing for their own seats at the next general election based on what happened at the polls on May 23.

Many bemoan the fact that their warnings about the devastation caused by the medical card review went ignored for months, and as a result many good councillors paid the price.

Others simply have grown tired of having to defend a man who has for a long time now appeared to be out of his depth.

Those who warn that simply changing the ministerial line up doesn't in itself solve the problem certainly have a point, but so do those who are anxious for change.

The public has been denied its express wish for a new politics by a Government that promised all that and more. Both Fine Gael and Labour paid the price for denying the people that promise.

Mr Kenny must regain the political initiative or risk being dumped out of office at the next election, thereby denying him his goal of being the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be re-elected.

He has been warned.

Irish Independent

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