Saturday 7 December 2019

Shaun Connolly: Enda and his Lady in Red near last dance

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD & Tanaiste Joan Burton TD. Photo: Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD & Tanaiste Joan Burton TD. Photo: Collins

Shaun Connolly

Enda Kenny assumed the recovery position yesterday as Fine Gael tried to breathe some life into its flat-lining campaign.

The Taoiseach was flanked by two doctors, Messrs Reilly and Varadkar, for the tricky operation.

They may have crashed the health service between them, but, hey, you can't be too fussy in an emergency.

The unveiling of the manifesto was a chance to resuscitate the re-election bid and Mr Kenny was certainly putting a brave face on things.

Indeed, he was as bouncy as an inflatable castle.

Well, until Newstalk presenter Chris Donoghue sought to get a straight answer out of him over his carefully worded non-ruling out of a hook-up with Fianna Fáil - then he seemed to deflate a tad.

"I do not contemplate doing business with Fianna Fáil. Period.

"I do not contemplate doing business with Fianna Fáil. Period," he repeatedly non-answered.

Master of Ceremonies, Brian Hayes, was also on hand to valiantly protect his leader from any questions that might prove tricky.


FG had chosen a swanky glass-walled shopping mall for its manifesto launch and it proved to be the perfect backdrop to the campaign so far, as it began in glorious sunshine and high hopes.

Then the party top brass was again reminded it could not control the environment surrounding it, and increasingly grey-looking skies gave way to such an intense downpour it was difficult to hear the Taoiseach at times amid all the noise.

The mall was sealed off and eerily deserted for the event - the last thing bubble politicians want getting in the way of their nice, shiny election is real people and their real problems, after all.

Party flunkies planted in the audience listlessly held up brightly coloured posters with sheepishly banal messages on them, such as: 'Blah, blah Jobs', and 'Blah, blah Recovery'.

Though not slamming the door on Micheál Martin, Mr Kenny was clearly showing the exit to his deputy leader, James Reilly, as he admitted there were "tensions" and pointedly declined to say whether the Children's Minister would retain his party post after the election.

"The only person elected to the next Dáil is the Ceann Comhairle.

"We will wait and see what the people decide," he again non-answered.

Clearly, as far as the Taoiseach is concerned, Dr Reilly will soon become Dr Who?

On the other side of the river, Renua's Lucinda Creighton was proudly parading her party's new crime policy poster with colleagues.

And it was certainly brave for a bunch of TDs to stand in front of giant lettering declaring: 'When They're Behind Bars You'll Be Safe'.

Lucinda meant, of course, criminals not politicians, though her claim that she is "way beyond paranoid" over what she alleges is a Fine Gael "smear" campaign against her, means she would probably find room in the cells for a few of her former colleagues if she could.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, Joan Burton was suitably dressed in vivid Valentine red, but you could not help but fear whether she and the man of her political dreams, Enda, will be celebrating their political union again this time next year.

Ms Burton insisted Mr Kenny needed Labour in government because the party is "seasoned" - trouble is, so is a stuffed turkey, and that is what Labour is increasingly looking like if the polls are to be believed. Recovery looks a long way off for Enda's 'Lady in Red'.

Irish Independent

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