Tuesday 20 February 2018

It's time for my 2016 political awards: Who won coveted 'Plain Silly' gong?

As the recess starts, let's review the 32nd Dail's first term - there might not be too many more of them, writes Shane Coleman

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Shane Coleman

Shane Coleman

It's 150 days today since the country went to the polls and produced the most fragmented, divided Dail since the Civil War. It took 70 of those days to finally elect a Taoiseach. The following 80 days have been every bit as eventful - just ask Enda Kenny. TDs of all parties and none are grateful to limp off to recharge the batteries after a traumatic few months for virtually everyone. Nothing succeeds like recess, they like to say in Westminster, so what better time to pause and present our special political 'awards' for the first term of the 32nd Dail - there may not be too many more of them.

Best politician: Micheal Martin. He might have been pipped in the General Election battle, but the opinion polls suggest he will ultimately win the war. He was the undoubted star of the election campaign, as other leaders - Kenny, Gerry Adams and Joan Burton - faltered badly. Martin then ignored the hysterical calls from commentators, who should have known better, demanding he must break his General Election promise and go into government with Fine Gael. He made history by facilitating Kenny's return as Taoiseach. And, with half of voters believing Fianna Fail is effectively calling the shots from the opposition benches; the party north of 30pc in the polls; and his own satisfaction ratings well above the other leaders, he is sitting pretty. A lot can, and will, happen between now and the general election, but Martin has the look of a man set to lead his party out of perdition and back into real power - the Taoiseach-in-waiting.

Great survivor: Enda Kenny. The election was a personal disaster for him but he still made history by becoming the first FG Taoiseach to be returned to office. And, after a rocky few weeks when there seemed to be the beginnings of a move against him, Kenny made it to the summer still in situ. He has used up eight of his nine lives, though, and surely will be gone by the year's end. Then again, he has defied such predictions in the past.

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