Claims to history all very well but Enda will not get involved in mere debates
CAMPAIGN SKETCH:THE CONTRAST was interesting.
Gerry Adams went to the GPO and invoked the memory of the brave men and women of 1916 who fought the might of the British Empire.
Then his party marched on the Four Courts to seek a judicial review on a finding of the Referendum Commission.
Enda Kenny went to the Merrion Hotel and met the men and women of American commerce to woo the might of their business empires. Then he sidestepped the media and crossed the road to Government Buildings, pausing briefly to throw himself in front of a bus.
It was a coachload of tourists from a cruise ship docked in Dublin for the day. The driver recognised Enda, who stuck his head through his window and said hello to the astonished passengers. (Once they realised he wasn’t trying to hijack them and was, in fact, the Irish prime minister.) An hour earlier, on O’Connell Street, Gerry pitched up on the traffic island opposite the GPO, where more people from the cruise ship were wandering around. They were delighted to see him when it was explained who he was.
“He’s one of the rebels, right?” said an American man, whipping out his camcorder. Members of the overseas media were quite taken by the symbolism of the place chosen by the Sinn Féin leader for his last media event of the referendum campaign. One asked him to explain its importance and Gerry was only too happy to oblige. “The building behind us is the spot where a republic was proclaimed and it was at a time when the British Empire controlled a quarter of this planet,” he began.
The local media, more concerned with getting answers to Sinn Féin’s stance on the emergency bailout fund, rolled their eyes. “These very brave men and women had a vision of an alternative way forward,” continued Gerry, warming up.
But what relevance does this have to tomorrow’s referendum? “Well, all of that has been given away,” declared Gerry. Enda Kenny “is saying that he wants to be the taoiseach who will give back sovereignty by the centenary of the 1916 rising”. We would have asked Enda how he felt about being accused of squandering the legacy of 1916, but he wasn’t doing much talking to journalists. He’s fed up with being asked why he won’t do a head-to-head debate with Gerry.
“I’m not going to be shoved around by Sinn Féin and I’m not going to give a platform to somebody, whom I don’t regard as a leader of the opposition, to propagate what are blatant lies and hypocritical assertions,” the Taoiseach thundered as he was waylaid on his way into the weekly Cabinet meeting.
When he spoke later to the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, Enda was more concerned with events in 2016 than with what happened in 1916.