Kenny's outrage most in touch with public mood

Wed, Nov 12, 2008, 00:00

DÁIL SKETCH: "This is a war. Win it!" Perhaps Enda Kenny was being a touch dramatic. But his outraged tone seemed more in tune with public opinion than the Taoiseach's downbeat contribution.

Law and order is Fine Gael territory. Their leader staked it out again during Leaders' Questions.

There could only be one item for discussion yesterday: the terrible murder of a young man on his doorstep in Limerick. Shane Geoghegan was the innocent victim of a gangland feud, shot as he returned from an evening out because the gunman mistook him for his intended target.

The general public, almost inured to stories of vicious in-fighting among armed criminals, is shocked by the atrocity. The murder of Shane Geoghegan is one of those awful events which leaves people so angry and anxious that they are lost for words.

For all sorts of reasons, politics is not in good standing with many citizens at the moment. But yesterday, as politicians filed into the Dáil chamber for Leaders' Questions, there was a sense that interest in what was about to be said stretched far wider than Leinster House.

It was Enda Kenny who best summed up the public mood. (Brian Cowen and his Government would probably argue that the Opposition leader can allow himself the luxury of angry hang 'em and flog 'em outburst. They, on the other hand, must be more measured.) The Fine Gael leader assured Brian Cowen that he would have his party's full support in bringing in whatever extra measures are required to put the mobsters behind bars.

"If we are going to treat these people with the easy hand and the bland response, that is not good enough . . . They have no respect for you, your Government or the people of Ireland," he told him.

Enda wanted to hear no more about zero tolerance, and stings of dying wasps. "This is a war," he said. "Win it!" He spoke with passion. He wasn't saying anything that wasn't being said in the homes and lounge bars of Ireland.

Eamon Gilmore also tried to convey the feeling of outrage around the country. "I think the public want to get a sense that these people are going to be smashed, closed down, put out of business . . ." he said.

"I found your response to deputy Kenny somewhat defeatist," added the Labour leader. "We want to see definite measures taken . . ." Cowen, in his formulaic replies to both men, stressed that everything possible is being done by the Garda.

In the case of the Geoghegan killing, "no stone will be left unturned to bring them to justice". He bridled at the suggestion that he sounded defeatist.

The forces of justice would operate "within the parameters", said the Taoiseach, who is in charge of setting the parameters. "All of us are cognisant of the threat." But Enda Kenny had already covered that ground: "This is not a threat. This has happened," he said. "Every possible effort will be made," repeated the Taoiseach. But, you know, he did sound a bit defeatist. But maybe that's just a general thing.