Monday 18 February 2019

Enda could surf Rising tide into post-Easter vote

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

Daniel McConnell

Since taking office, and amid often turbulent days, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly spoken of his desire and wish to run the Government through its full term.

This would see the Dáil sitting until March of next year with an election thereafter.

By doing that, Mr Kenny would still be in place as Taoiseach on Easter Sunday, 100 years after the Easter Rising occurred.

There is a strong belief among some in Fine Gael that there is a considerable political dividend for Mr Kenny being the man at the centre of such an auspicious State occasion of celebration.

It would bolster his image as a leader so close to an election that it would greatly assist his and Fine Gael's re-election.

Such a belief is bolstered by historical precedence.

In 2001, the day after the end of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern oversaw a day of ceremonies to mark the reburial of Kevin Barry and others executed by the British.

Mr Ahern delivered the graveside oration in Dublin's Glasnevin cemetery at the reburial of nine of the 10 victims of the executions following their exhumation earlier that month from the grounds of Mountjoy jail, where they were hanged in 1920 and 1921. Mr Ahern and Fianna Fáil were subsequently re-elected in 2002.

In 1966, a near-blind and aged Eamon De Valera was narrowly re-elected President of Ireland having overseen the 50-year Rising Commemorations weeks before.

Yet, amid such pomp and ceremony, it is certain that Sinn Féin will also seek to maximise the use of the tricolour for its own benefit, which could impact of Fine Gael hopes.

But beyond whatever potential benefit Mr Kenny (inset right) gets from being Taoiseach at the commemorations, there is also a belief that with a rising economy, he is right to delay the election as long as possible.

There is also a constituency of opinion within Government that going to the public earlier in 2016 could be better.

The feeling is that should promised tax cuts be delivered upon on Budget day, allow the public see two pay cheques with more money in them, and then go to the country some time in March.

This would coincide with improving weather and longer evenings which are more conducive for campaigning.

Yet, there is another school of thought that the promise of said tax cuts would be better than the reality.

The feeling is - announce the Budget in October and go immediately in order to capitalise.

Whether Mr Kenny leaves it until after Easter next year or decides to cut and run early, it is ultimately a political gamble. It is a gamble which he hopes will pay off not just for Fine Gael but for Labour too. There is no chance of a Fine Gael overall majority, based on current figures, and there is no guarantee the two parties would have enough seats to be returned on their own.

Chances are he'll go long.

Irish Independent

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