Hungry Kenny Raises the Roof
Deaglán de Bréadún
Shattered must be the only way to describe the feelings of England and Dubs supporters today, after the crushing defeats they suffered at the hands of Germany and Meath respectively.
What’s this got to do with politics? Well, I’m sorry, but everything is political and politics isn’t confined to political parties and their competitive interaction.
One imagines the Richard Bruton wing of Fine Gael understands how the England and Dubs supporters feel. They looked to have a better chance than either the soccer or Gaelic football teams in question.
But they underestimated the Man from Mayo. Beneath that calm and courteous exterior there is a lot of passion. He won that vote because he wanted to keep the leadership more than Richard wanted to take it away from him.
I saw some more of that passion at a gig in Carlow during the last week. Kenny was addressing a selection convention for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency and yours truly was assigned to report on it.
Fine Gael has only one out of five seats there and is running three candidates in the general election – Phil Hogan TD, Sen John Paul Phelan and Cllr Pat Deering.
Kenny had quite a good script about the internal advice given to the Government by the Department of Finance in relation to the economic crisis. It was a Richard-type speech and would have been discussed next day on the airwaves, culminating perhaps in a Prime Time appearance for the FG leader.
But no, Kenny tossed it aside and launched into a lengthy oration aimed at the party grassroots. The underlying theme was: Get your finger out and win at least two seats next time, I mean, just look at us in Mayo where we have three out of five.
Kenny lifted the roof off. It wasn’t a speech for the annals. Ph. D. candidates will get very little out of it. It was pure gut-politics. But it was about power, the attainment of same.
At the end of the day it’s a numbers game. If the numbers are right, Fine Gael will get into government next time and even be the majority party. It’s probably safe to assume that they will have more seats than Labour, given the existing balance of forces, but a key question could be: how much bigger than Labour they are when the votes have all been counted.
That could make the difference between a “real” Fine Gael-led government and a compromise administration where Labour’s priorities have more or less equal weight.
I wish the late John Healy could have been alive for the Fine Gael heave. He would have made great play of the contrast between the “snipe-grass” of Mayo and “lush plains of Royal Meath”. A gross over-simplification of course, but it would have made entertaining reading.
Anyway, as if you didn’t know, Enda Kenny is hungry – real hungry. So, too, is Eamon Gilmore. It must be a West of Ireland thing.