Tuesday 25 June 2019

Kevin Doyle: Kenny chose to surrender so that he could survive

Enda Kenny. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Enda Kenny. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

When Enda Kenny bounced into the meeting with junior ministers on Tuesday evening they knew everything was okay with the world again.

Just a few hours earlier, he had thanked his senior ministers and told them "history will be kind" in a tone that led many to believe they were heading back on the campaign trial.

All around Leinster House the tension was palpable.

One TD told how he rang the company that supplied his cable ties a few months ago to check if they had restocked - only to be told that he'd have to join the queue behind some of his rivals.

But as word started to filter back from the 'Trinity Talks' that there had been a breakthrough on water, the atmosphere instantly changed.

The joke was that while everybody else was breathing a deep sigh of relief, President Michael D Higgins would be devastated.

He would not get to come into the Dáil and lecture them on the "national interest".

There was a consensus on all sides that no matter how ministers might try to spin it, Fine Gael had ceded dramatic ground on water charges.

At the same time some wondered how and why water became such an issue in the first place.

Surely Fine Gael's principles in relation to taxation, health and childcare meant more to the grassroots than the €3 a week.

And while they took their beating from their supporters and the media, one man knew that his luck had held out.

After all the blows he took, Enda Kenny made a few crucial moves in recent weeks that have allowed him stay in power.

First he roped in his challengers - Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald - by putting them front and centre of the efforts to form a government. For him to fail, they would have to fail.

He let his terrified TDs believe a revolt would spark a second election, ensuring discipline was retained.

And he somehow managed to keep the Independents in the room despite their personal dislike of him.

Mr Kenny may not hold that office for very long but the history books will show that he was the first Fine Gael leader to 'win' back-to-back elections.

Or as one Independent put it: "He surrendered to survive."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss