Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tone of leader's speech does little to dampen rumours

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

WHEN even Eurocrats know about Mayo's long wait for an All-Ireland, clearly Enda Kenny has left an impression. Ahead of the European People's Party congress, a dinner was held in the Gibson Hotel, beside the old Point Depot venue in Dublin's Docklands, on Wednesday night.

The guests were from, or associated with, the Centre for European Studies – the EPP's political think-tank.

In his comments to the 75 guests, one of the centre's executive board members, former Slovakian prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda, made reference to the Mayo curse.

"I didn't realise it was the talk of the EPP that Mayo hasn't won for 63 years," Mr Kenny replied.

Also the talk of the EPP are the upcoming vacancies for the posts of European Commission president and European Council president. The tone of Mr Kenny's own speech to the gathering did little to dampen the speculation about him being a contender.

The rallying call about Ireland's recovery and the leadership qualities of a small country were interpreted by some present as having a less than subtle message. "It sounded like a campaign speech. Though I still don't believe he'll go," a Fine Gael source said.

Ostensibly, the question of European Commission president will be decided by the outcome of the European Parliament elections in May. The winner between the two largest blocks, the EPP and the socialist PES, will nominate the head of the policy-making body.

The groups are all putting forward their own leaders for the elections, who will go on to be the candidates for the European Commission presidency.

Mr Kenny is admired by powerful figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron and would be acceptable to northern and southern European leaders alike.

The Taoiseach is publicly saying he wants to stay put, but at some stage in the coming months he will have to privately reject an approach too.

Irish Independent

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