It’s a numbers game now
Well the showdown didn’t happen as envisaged. But both sides have got their spake in.
Enda Kenny gave a 20 minute address to the front bench that was a rant or a Gettysburg address depending on which side you were on. Then he shut down the meeting and walked out without giving the dissenters the chance to tell him that they no longer supported him. A few followed him down the corridor. It was all unseemly and very emotional.
Then the nine naysayers assembled on the plinth to say what they might have wanted to say to Kenny. The optics of it were powerful. Along with Brian Hayes, Simon Coveney, and Olivia Mitchell there were new faces. Denis Naughten, Olwyn Enright, Fergus O’Dowd, Billy Timmins and Michael Creed. And Leo Varadkar of course. There’s speculaton going around that Charlie Flanagan and Alan Shatter may also switch allegiances.
Both sides are claiming that they will have enough support to win on Thursday. But the corollary of that is that if it’s evenly poised no matter who wins will have to deal with an embittered rump. If Kenny wins, it will only be for a last lap of honour. If Bruton wins, questions will be raised about his wherewithal to be leader, whether he has the reach or touch to relate to ordinary people beyond the precincts of the Dáil. The dust on this will take a long time to settle, and will only do so when a member of the younger generation takes over.