During the canvass, we struggled to find anyone in favour of keeping the Seanad
Enda seizes the opportunity to showcase his street cred
Enda was in his element. Relaxed, and more than willing to debate why he believes the people should vote on Friday to abolish the Seanad.
Can you guess where we weren’t on Saturday?
Clue: Enda was in his element. Relaxed, and more than willing to debate why he believes the people should vote on Friday to abolish the Seanad.
Yes, that’s right.
We were nowhere near a television studio.
We were in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and then in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre – the Taoiseach’s two favourite locations for campaigning in Dublin. “Engaging with the public” it’s called.
And Enda Kenny is very engaging with the public.
A lad of about 14 approached him in Liffey Valley, holding up his phone. “Can I take a picture?” he mumbled self-consciously, leaning in towards the Taoiseach. Enda immediately seized the opportunity to showcase his street cred.
“Is it a selfie, is it?” he asked, sounding pleased with himself.
The boy gave him a withering look.
“Is that a selfie?” repeated Enda, with a knowing smile.
(A “selfie” m’lud, is what the young people today call a photograph taken of oneself, by oneself, on one’s mobile phone.)
At which point the young fella – oozing mortification and pity – swiftly handed the phone to the adult with him who took the picture. His face suggested an excellent slogan for Fine Gael election posters: “Enda Kenny – as bad as your Da.”
For the Taoiseach has what it takes to be a canvassing party leader par excellence: no shame and no embarrassment threshold. Bertie Ahern had it in spades.
During a brief media opportunity, Enda was asked again about his refusal to take part in a televised debate on the Seanad. Would he change his mind and accept RTÉ’s invitation to thrash out the issues with the Fianna Fáil leader?
Enda paused. “No.”
“Micheál Martin is looking for notice. This is the people’s choice.”
In the course of three hours spent accosting members of the public, we didn’t hear one person ask the Taoiseach about taking part in a debate. Hardly anyone brought up the subject of the Seanad unprompted.
Instead, shoppers wanted to talk about their own problems – children living on the other side of the world; the health service; the state of the taxi industry; the erosion of teachers’ pay and conditions; cuts in services.
But Gaelic football and that evening’s All-Ireland hurling final were the main topic for discussion.
Celia Hogan from Leixlip was having a cup of coffee and minding her own business when the Taoiseach plonked himself down beside her, a bashful looking Leo Varadkar in tow.
‘I think he’s a dictator’
When Celia was joined by friends Anne Lowney and Maura Currie – they did their nursing training together in James’s Hospital 44 years ago – Enda went into overdrive. The women looked bemused.