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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 18, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    Dry your eyes mate

    Mary Minihan

    Enda Kenny put on a stellar show at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting which secured his leadership, Cork North-Central TD Bernard Allen told Charlie Bird (welcome home Charlie!).

    “Enda Kenny I believe gave the performance of his life…I wish we could bottle it and get it out there to the public,” Mr Allen said.

    Senator Ciaran Cannon agreed. “He needed to give the speech of his life and he gave it. He got a standing ovation from all, including his detractors. The whole room, everybody,” he said.

    Pity no-one taped this speech. It would have been great to hear it. Same goes for the powerful performances Taoiseach Brian Cowen reportedly puts in behind closed doors. ‘Bottling’ the essence of both men has proven difficult.

    MEP Jim Higgins claimed some of the best speeches he’d ever heard were delivered from Kenny supporters. He was scornful of the “more in sorrow than in anger” tone struck by the Bruton camp.

    “There were so many heavy hearts we should’ve been sending for a cardiologist,” he snorted. (A clear dig at Brian Hayes and others there).

    So moving was Kenny’s speech that a number of men in the room were crying. My colleague Deaglan notes today, in his detailed report on the meeting, there were “tears in the eyes” of some of Mr Kenny’s critics. No doubt! Among them was Senator Paschal Donohoe, who later shredded the ballot papers (including the one with which he had voted against Mr Kenny).

    “And I’m just standin’ there, I can’t say a word/‘Cause everythin’s just gone/I’ve got nothin’/Absolutely nothin’” [The Streets – 'Dry Your Eyes']

    A number of Fine Gael ‘rebels’ did not return calls yesterday. I don’t blame them. I probably wouldn’t feel like talking either.

    I believe some of Kenny’s male supporters wept as well. Most if not all of the women – dare I call them the blue blouses? – remained dry-eyed, it seems.

    • Mary, I asked in the letters page of this august publication of those who said we must support Mr Kenny as leader above all other considerations,

      1. Do they accept there is a problem with the public’s perception of his abilities – not with his actual abilities but with the public’s perception of them? I thought most people will answer yes and I still reckon that it the case.

      2. To those who accept there is a problem with that perception, what do we do about it? There are three options: i) demonstrate immediately a convincing plan to right the public’s misconceptions of Mr Kenny and explain why this has not happened before now, ii) accept stagnation of the party’s support, or iii) remove the perception problem entirely by removing the very man who is the subject of the incorrect perception.

      We’re rejected option (iii) this week and I can only presume that people in the party aren’t interested in settling for option (ii) so was this stellar performance the beginning of option (i)? I hope so, I really really hope so.

    • Daniel Kenneally says:

      Very impressed with Enda Kenny he is a man of substance. Bertie Ahern was popular and look where that has landed us with over 400,000 people on the dole. The man should be accountable for the mess he left the country in. The electorate would want to wise up and see this. It seems we could repeat the same mistake with populism with Labour and Eamon Gilmore. That’s why we are in such a mess, we vote for popular leaders who make shocking decisions. I hope that lessons can be learned for the future.

    • Kynos says:

      “I wish we could bottle it and get it out there to the public,” Mr Allen said.” – never heard of a video cam then mate? If he gets nervy in front of even one of them you could like camofluage it or use a pinhole. Funny thing about Irishmen they only seem to get weepy over songs battles and footie matches. Suppose political camp falls under all or any of three. As for real tragedy we’ve eyes dry as an Arab’s tombstone. Ye Yrysh ar a race most straunge / An som micht thynke themm madde / For aulle yer warres are merry / An alle yer songes be sadde”

    • Mary Minihan says:

      Many thanks for your comments. Daniel S, you make a thoughtful distinction between what you term Enda Kenny’s actual abilities and the public’s perception of them. I would imagine Mr Kenny’s team has indeed opted for the option you mention of coming up with a plan “to right the public’s misconceptions” of the Fine Gael leader. Then they might hear more comments, like the one from Daniel K, that he is a “man of substance”.

      Quite how they would explain why this has not happened before now is another matter!

      I am still hoping against hope one of the 70 people in the FG parliamentary party room recorded that speech, Kynos – discretion assured if they would like to pass it on!

      On The Week in Politics last night, if I remember correctly (such a great programme but on so late when the eyelids are getting heavy!), Mary Harney said Mr Kenny’s performance last week would benefit him in the short to medium term, which I thought was interesting.

    • kynos says:

      I used know one or two who were brilliant at tutorials but would fall apart at lectures. That was in college. Know a lot of people get utterly flummoxed and flitthered at the sight of a cam or a large crowd and yet are pure-d geniuses when it comes to all sorts of knowledge and expertise creativity and of course the most important ever execution. But to look at them when they’re unnerved glossophobia it’s called you’d swear they were complete gobdaws loodrawmawns gobshites and amadhains. It’s the old character ethic v the personality ethic thing lot of people get took in by snakeoilsalesmen.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      I’d lov eto know who ‘they’ are as I don’t know a single person who has ever been contacted for any of these surveys or anyone who knows someone.

      I think a lot of the Enda Kenny negativity is media generated because the media are part of the self perpetuating circle of those who are part of the problem in creating the mess Ireland is in, either by pushing the actual policy or failing to question it and who have a certain agenda of what they think a leader should be.

      Enda has had to face the moving plates of Irish politics away from what side your father was on in the civil war to a more mature political system and he has kept Fine Gael up at about 30% give or take.

      Those who mutter against him have never articulated what exactly he is doing wrong or what they would do differently or why Fine Gael should be at 40% or 50%. Who says it should? We aren’t living in the 1982 with two a bit parties anymore – there are 6 so no party is ever going to get even 40% again never mind 50%.

      Perhaps Enda’s fault is to allow the perception gain ground that he has to know the minute details of every policy – he doesn’t. He apparently is surrounded by the ‘best and brightest’ – or so the media insiders who also inhale the rarified Leinster House air – so isn’t it actually their fault that he even needs to be explaining these wonderful policies they come up with – if Richard or Leo or Brian or whoever were so good then why does no one understand their policies – why do they need to be explained to anyone.

      I don’t want to see Enda KEnny on the Late Late Show and I don’t want to see him glad handling any cronies at country funerals anymore than I want to see bonfires in Mayo or smug dinner parties in D4 celebrating ‘their’ guy winning (both of which are equally offensive) and I don’t want Enda Kenny to ‘entertain me’ – the problems Ireland faces are far too serious.

      I don’t care if some people think he’s wooden or fluffs his lines – the factual evidence is that he has rebuilt a party that in 2002 the same media types who slag him off now, were saying was going to be taken over by the PDs, only the PDs are history and Fine Gael is the largest party in local and European politics and the largest party nationally in every poll for the last year plus, not even Garret FitzGerald managed that so the evidence is pretty clear that Enda doesn’t stop anyone voting for Fine Gael and those who say he does were never going to vote FG anyhow and want to be part of the media bandwagon.

      So FG’s media people need to tackle the perception that it is ‘cool’ to have a go at Enda – then the front bench need to pull their weight. Either they are qualified to be there in which case, Enda won’t need to do their job or they are not, in which case someone else can take their place.

    • Desmond, what I would do is completely ditch any further at putting Enda front and centre as the focus of the FG media campaign. He is great at the face to face campaigning, but the other side of things hasn’t worked.

      I would instead have focused entirely on the idea that it was a team of people you were electing to government. Emphasis that we don’t have a presidential system in Ireland and that Eamon Gilmore isn’t going to be running the department of health and education and justice and trade and enterprise and finance all on his lonesome. i mean a former leader of the party is spokesperson on Justice and another is there for Education and Science but you’d hardly know it. THat would have been my tack on how to campaign, and then we could have ignored Enda’s poll ratings but instead we insist in putting his face on every campaign as if we’re still interested in correcting the public’s misconceptions about him. After all, he would get his shout at being Taoiseach based on FG’s performance not his own. That how our system works.

    • Ray D says:

      Enda is indeed a remarkable man. He changed to be himself only a few short months ago. Now as he is a few weeks away from his 60th birthday and about 36 years in the Dail earning his massive salary, he has completely renovated hiimsef again. He is now the greatest statesman and Great Leader in Ireland. Long may he reign.

      However I cannot see the cynical Irishman or woman recognisimg the Phoenix. He will become a Mercury again, I feel, and probably within the next 3 weeks or so

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