Taoiseach slips back to the Seanad and butters them up
Just to show that meant business, Enda had his little notebook with him and scribbled furiously throughout the session
Enda Kenny: “I don’t really have any interest in some of the bombastic triumphalism I might have heard in various quarters in the past few months.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzimons
Enda came into the Seanad with a pound of Connaught Gold in his pocket.
He took a swig of water and smiled before larding it in lumps over the gratified senators. You could see some of the Fianna Fáil contingent wanted to gag, but they kept their composure.
“I come in peace, not in war” he soothed, slicking butter across the smiling ranks of the vindicated. He had little choice, having just lost his personal battle to abolish the Upper House.
In reality, he had been forced to the victor’s tent to discuss terms of surrender. Enda said he was “glad to be back” in the chamber, sounding like a man returning to a favourite haunt after an unavoidable absence – rather than a Taoiseach paying only his third visit to the place since assuming power two and a half years ago.
(And one of those trips was to explain why he wanted to wipe them off the political map.)
Never mind. All friends again. And the senators had the elusive Enda all to themselves for two whole hours.
Although by the end of the debate, it was clear that the Taoiseach’s surrender was far from unconditional. By then, though, it was too late.
He soothingly told them he was among them in the name of reform. He was there to listen. “This is an opportunity for you to speak your minds.”
Twenty four of them did just that, throwing out lots and lots and lots of helpful suggestions about how they could make themselves more meaningful.
Is there anything to be said for another task force?
The Taoiseach’s humble approach worked wonders. He was treated to a love-in. With the amount of licking that went on, members of the public gallery must have thought they had stumbled upon the Irish qualifier for the World Lollipop Championships.
No. Enda was all ears, but eager to move on. “I don’t really have any interest in some of the bombastic triumphalism I might have heard in various quarters in the past few months.”
Some of the members looked a bit hurt at that, but the Taoiseach quickly repeated he was there in peace.
Darragh O’Brien, Fianna Fáil’s leader in the House, was the one small pocket of resistance. There would be no “bombastic triumphalism” from his side of the House, said Darragh, welcoming Enda’s remarks while pithily observing that he insisted a few weeks ago that the Seanad is unreformable.
“The people rejected the Taoiseach’s proposal. To use the Taoiseach’s own phrase, Paddy does like to know the story. Paddy knew the story and saw through some of the very cynical and dishonest methods that were used, in particular by the Fine Gael Party in this campaign.”
O’Brien then kicked off the list of suggestions.
Just to show that meant business, Enda had his little notebook with him and scribbled furiously throughout the session.
The Fine Gael leader, Maurice Cummins, referred to the marvellous debates they have in the Upper House, then he suggested a task force and a road map.
“Let us do what we’ve been paid to do” pleaded Taoiseach’s nominee, Jillian van Turnhout.