Saturday 24 February 2018

Rock-solid support for his uphill challenge

Brian McDonald

IF Enda Kenny has a mountain to climb to assert his leadership, then he can draw deep on past experience.

The Fine Gael leader has already proved he has the bottle for the steepest of uphill treks, and we were reminded of it as soon as we patrolled Castlebar's streets yesterday.

Paddy McGuinness, now retired councillor, remembers the dark days in Fine Gael and has no end of admiration for the man who dragged the party up off its knees following the catastrophic 2002 General Election.

Not alone that, but he was also at his leader's side as he battled his way up Mount Kilimanjaro the following year. It was a charity climb, but a long way from window-dressing -- at almost 20,000ft, it's Africa's highest mountain.

"He reminded me of it when I spoke to him this morning. He said he didn't give up then -- and he's not giving up now," Mr McGuinness said.

The man himself had apparently escaped his Castlebar stronghold before daybreak and was "somewhere in Dublin" dealing with the Richard Bruton question.

But he could rest assured that his Mayo base was backing him all the way.

"People here are rock-solid behind him. Kenny's star is on the up and this town has a tradition of supporting its own. Even in the time of the Beverley Flynn controversy, the people here backed their own.

"You wouldn't even find Fianna Fail fellas looking to take him out."

The toughest part of climbing Kilimanjaro is apparently getting to the very highest peak.

Called Uhuru, it sounded similar to what some of Kenny's more earthy supporters here were calling Bruton yesterday.

Irish Independent

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