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Kevin Doyle: Kenny has a chance to add one last chapter to his legacy


'Mr Kenny has an opportunity to add another ‘moment’ to his legacy.' Photo: Getty

'Mr Kenny has an opportunity to add another ‘moment’ to his legacy.' Photo: Getty

Getty Images

'Mr Kenny has an opportunity to add another ‘moment’ to his legacy.' Photo: Getty

Taoiseach Enda Kenny must be thinking a lot about his legacy these days.

While he has no intention of retiring this year, there has already been a television documentary on his career and plenty of column inches about his time as leader.

On Sunday, when asked about when Mr Kenny might step down, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said he "is going to want to preserve his legacy as a great leader for Fine Gael".

But what about his legacy as a great leader of the country? His policies have often been criticised and he has planted plenty of landmines for his backbenchers to navigate. Think of the 'economic jargon' fiasco during last year's election campaign and the Sinn Féin row in recent days.

Then there is the 'dad dancing' and the endless goofy stories about men he meets in pubs.

However, Mr Kenny's place in history will most likely focus on how his government helped pull the economy back from the edge of the abyss.

And for all the focus put on his gaffes, it will be the real moments of leadership that stand-out. His 2011 speech to the Dáil in which he attacked the Catholic Church for attempting to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry gained worldwide recognition.

Now the world stands at a strange and dangerous point in history and despite our small space on the international stage, Mr Kenny has an opportunity to add another 'moment' to his legacy.

In six weeks time he will travel to the White House knowing that his every move is likely to garner significant attention. No doubt, he asked Theresa May last night about her meeting with Donald Trump. Mrs May took the safe option and essentially gave a public endorsement to a racist reality TV star who is trying to drag the world in a direction that she said the UK couldn't support.

As a result, thousands took to the streets of London and other cities in protest last night.

The Taoiseach can take the road less travelled. It might result in a slap-down on Capitol Hill but catapult his credibility in the EU.

Presidents come and go. Our principles should not.

Shamrock pictures and a few seconds of paddy-whackery for the cameras are obligatory on St Patrick's Day - but this bilateral must dig deeper.

Mr Kenny says he will tell Mr Trump "face to face" our issues with his immigration policies. He should also state them publicly - least Mr Trump's inevitable tweet about a "tremendous" meeting be allowed to stand unchallenged.

The Taoiseach has a small role to play in history but it will affect his legacy. It could be a Cloyne moment or he could take the easy option.

Irish Independent