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'Virtual Kenny' goes interactive in home town

Enda Kenny's constituency fixer in Mayo yesterday defended the Fine Gael leader from claims he was deliberately cutting down on his media appearances.

Mr Kenny was accused of engaging in gimmickry when he appeared on a new FG website after taking a "protracted leave of absence" from the national stage.

FG have temporarily ditched their traditional website featuring policies, statements and candidates and replaced it with a forum seeking contributions from the public.

Copying a trend in US and British politics, Mr Kenny features in a video asking people for their views -- without setting out any policies himself.

Describing the FG leader as "Virtual Enda", Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne said he was looking forward to a "more interactive version".

"I look forward to seeing whether this latest Enda will be available for political debate on the real issues facing Ireland today," he said.


FG's environment spokesman Phil Hogan welcomed FF talking about his party's plans.

"The very fact Fianna Fail are responding to a new Fine Gael initiative is a good day for Fine Gael," he said.

Mr Kenny was not available to comment.

But Mayor of Castlebar, councillor Ger Deere who works as Mr Kenny's parliamentary assistant, said there was "no question" of the party leader keeping a low profile.

"He is an exceedingly busy and hard-working politician who rarely takes a break. I don't know where he gets the energy, to be honest.

"He is very focused on Fine Gael securing an overall majority in the imminent election. He has been very much out and about in recent weeks."

Mr Deere said Mr Kenny had immense confidence in the strength of his frontbench, the members of which were establishing very prominent roles for themselves at a time when the outgoing Government was in freefall.

Mr Deere said it was "business as usual" for Mr Kenny since taking a short family holiday over Christmas.

He was at his desk at 8.30am yesterday, after climbing Croagh Patrick the previous day with his two teenage sons, Ferdia and Naoise.

On the previous day, he attended a funeral in Tourmakeady before returning to his office for a couple of hours and then set off with his sons to climb the reek, a pilgrimage he undertakes a number of times every year.

Irish Independent