Taoiseach trips up adding final piece to campaign
Enda Kenny almost comes a cropper under the gaze of lurking assassin Katherine Zappone
Richard Bruton, Enda Kenny and Alan Shatter with Fine Gael’s ‘giant prop’. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Enda was going to be at the bandstand in St Stephen’s Green with “a giant prop”.
Oh, Fine Gael. With these photo opportunities, you really are spoiling us.
The press, of course, turned out in droves. Woozy with
Giant prop? Our money was on Big Phil Hogan. Although those of a more sporting frame of mind fantasised about the Taoiseach coaxing The Bull Hayes out of rugby retirement to lend a bit of heft to their final media briefing before tomorrow’s twin referendums.
They are not identical twins.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter graced the occasion, nursing along his forgotten little referendum as the big question of the Upper House continued to hog the limelight.
“Don’t forget the court of appeal,” he plaintively pleaded when the Seanad shenanigans drew to a close beside the duck pond. But before Enda’s giant prop could be revealed, there was the matter of his junior coalition partner’s last press conference of the campaign.
Again, there was barely a look-in for the court of appeal referendum runt.
In truth, there wasn’t a huge amount of interest either in the Labour hierarchy’s last push for a Yes vote. Their dire showing in the latest opinion poll and the relationship between the leader and his deputy was of primary concern to Eamon Gilmore’s audience in the Merrion Hotel.
It was put to Joan Burton that her seeming lack of support for her Tánaiste in recent times may have contributed to the slide in the polls.
Joan was aghast. Moi?
Sure they’ve been thick as thieves for almost two decades. They have “a very strong and positive” relationship.
Eamon nodded away. You could feel the love in the room.
“I hear all sorts of briefings have been suggesting [a rift] – they didn’t come from me – and I think you, and other journalists, are aware of that…” protested Joan.
Oh, of course.
Meanwhile, Democracy Matters, the group seeking a No vote and retention of the Seanad, also had plans to unveil a giant prop.
However, early yesterday morning, they issued a rather cross press release complaining that Fine Gael had scheduled their final press conference at the exact same time as their event “in a seemingly panicky move”.
They changed the time.
So here we all were, by the duck pond. The giant prop, er, propped up against the bandstand. It was a large cardboard representation of a jigsaw, showing European countries that have one chamber parliaments, with a big hole in the middle for the final bit.
Enda was going to slot in that last piece – Ireland.
Opponents of abolition might have thought the large pile of bubble-wrap in a corner of the summer house a more apt prop. Had it been removed from the prop or the Taoiseach, who was making a rare outing to talk about the referendum?
Enda arrived, late, from the Dáil. This could have spelled disaster for the Democracy Matters people, who had already moved their conference back so Fine Gael didn’t steal their moment. However, they had a secret weapon, standing at a discreet distance under a tree.