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Enda Kenny: The Taoiseach who goes on . . . and on

Inside Politics: Irish Times poll shows Fine Gael leader’s rating at highest in four years

Good morning. And what a good morning it is for Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

While his detractors have been counting down the days to his departure it appears the general public are warming to the Fine Gael leader again.

The Irish Times/MRBI poll shows Kenny’s satisfaction rate is at its highest rating in four years.

He has jumped an incredible seven points since our last poll to 36 points. All that and an increase in the Government’s satisfaction rating.


Those of us who roam the corridors of Leinster House have spent the past six months pondering when Enda is going and who is winning the race to replace him.

However, we have bad news for the pretenders to the crown: It looks like ‘NeverEnda’ could go on and on . . . and on.

The rebels can continue to rebel, the contenders can continue to wrestle with each other, but Kenny is outfoxing them all.

So what is it about Kenny? Why are voters flocking back to him? And why is the Government proving more popular?

Maybe the electorate likes a Government that does little and makes no decisions?

Maybe people want a parliament that does not pass legislation and that makes a series of decisions that are not acted on?

The poll results will also be welcome news for Micheal Martin. While he will assure us not to trust the polls and insist he does not read them, we expect Fianna Fail's increase in support will come as pleasant reading.

More importantly for the party is its popularity in Dublin, helped by its position on water charges no doubt.

Or maybe it was the possible return of Bertie Ahern that had some all excited?

The results do play down the risk of an election in the New Year, though - the perfect Christmas present for our party leaders and the population.

An abuse of privilege?

TDs and Senators are given an extraordinary privilege when elected. The Constitution provides them with absolute privilege when speaking in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

It is a right businessman Denis O’Brien is contesting after TDs made allegations against him in the Dail. Set aside Mr O’Brien’s case for the moment.

Mick Wallace has used privilege to heavily criticise raise the workings of the National Asset Management Agency.He has named individuals alleged of malpractice and serious wrongdoing.

His colleague Clare Daly has used privilege to question the actions of a member of the judiciary.

Both TDs have raised the treatment of garda whistleblowers by management of An Garda Siochana.

Yesterday Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell used the Constitutional protection afforded to him to allege Sinn Fein TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris were linked to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.

Most TDs use Dail privilege when they have exhausted every other avenue, when the media stops listening and they are left with little other choice.

What Farrell did yesterday was different. He used the luxury of privilege to score a point off his political opponent.

It is the same criticism he and others directed at Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald when she named a number of former politicians alleged to have offshore accounts to avoid paying tax.

There are a number of issues about what Farrell did, not least where he got the information and whether or not he was instructed by his party to name names.

Regardless, his comments raise more profound concerns about the power and the responsibility that comes with privilege.

Alan Farrell may have been supported by his own party for what he did. However, he may have done more long-term damage for TDs by his actions.