Mugshot puts Kenny’s name on everyone’s lips

Fine Gael ardfheis sketch: we’re not saying Enda has lost the run of himself but there were signs

Woke up.

Down the stairs for the restorative drop of tea.

And there – the shock of it – was Enda Kenny, in his good suit, leering at us from across the extendable table.

Just sitting there. In the back kitchen.


Of a Sunday.

The morning after the Fine Gael ardfheis.

Head tilted, eyes narrowed, half-smile, First Communion hair.

We’re not the better of it.

The dog is in therapy.

Then details came flooding back.

People were egging us on.

It was only a bit of fun.

We were careful to wrap everything in newspaper so nobody would see.

So we bought an Enda Kenny mug (€5) and bore it home from the RDS in the early hours of the morning. Along with an Enda Kenny souvenir plate (€10).

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It's difficult to say which looks more horrendous, the mug or the plate, but yesterday was like waking up to a nightmare vision of the Antiques Roadshow .

On the other hand, the "limited edition souvenir" crockery proved a winner with the grassroots – along with Enda's porcelain face, these instant heirlooms feature the overall result of the 2011 general election.

But while me old china Enda wants to be everybody’s mate, the delegates wanted to be Alan Shatter’s china plate on Saturday.

Poor Alan’s had a terrible time, you see, at the hands of those awful independents with their trousers and hair.

They gave him a standing ovation when he opened the session on justice and security, after Jerry Buttimer kick- started it by leaping to his feet.

Minister Shatter was most gratified.

But it got better.

Minutes before the ardfheis was beamed live to viewers who couldn't find the remote control, Enda's Bestest Boy, Simon Harris, was at the lectern waiting to introduce his boss. He couldn't say anything until he got the green light to begin.

Silence descended. It was a bit awkward, until a man in the audience roared: "Three cheers for Alan Shatter! "

And they did.

Most gratified, was Alan.

Silence again.

"Three cheers for Michael Noonan! "

Most gratified, was Noonan.
At this rate it was only a matter of time before somebody shouted "Three cheers for Frank Flannery! "

He was sitting in the good seats up near the front, as befits a member of the Fine Gael aristocracy and somebody the Dáil public accounts committee would really like to interview.

So it was a relief when serious young Simon of the permanently knitted brow finally got to remind everyone of Enda’s “courage, honesty, integrity” and “burning desire to rebuild our economy”.

Burning desire
As opposed to the many souvenir crockery owners in the hall, now possessed of a burning desire for a cup of tea every time they see the Taoiseach.

There was a great sense of excitement in the crowd, delegates having already savoured a few minutes of their beloved Noonan laughing at his own jokes and a slightly off- colour comedy segment from party chairman, Charlie Flanagan.

He started the traditional knockabout by benignly comparing Micheál Martin to Macavity the Mystery Cat, and followed up with an amusing swipe at Mary Lou McDonald’s average industrial wage credentials: “Most at home browsing the aisles of her local supermarket for prawns and prosecco.”

Then he declared Gerry Adams to be "more Mugabe than Mandela", before launching at length into independent TD's Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Ming Flanagan.

Wallace’s clothes and earrings got a blast.

Daly, said Charlie, was expelled from Joe "Ping-Pong Trotskeyite" Higgins's Socialist Party. "But it could have been worse. At least Joe didn't throw her to the dogs like Kim Jong- un did with his uncle in North Korea. "

As for Ming, “when you smoke too much pot, your brain can become fried.”

Flanagan likened the trio to the witches from Macbeth.

They should be delighted – for small-fry independents, they certainly seem to have gotten under Fine Gael's skin.

Polished job
With the support acts over – Cork North Central's Dara Murphy did a very polished job as master of ceremonies for the evening – it was time for the main event.

Music surged and The Face That Launched a Thousand Mugs and Souvenir Plates burst through a side door and did his keynote bustle up through the auditorium.

Take That's Stay Close to Me boomed from the speakers, a request that Enda's European election candidates – getting some respite from their mutual fear and loathing – took very seriously all day.

The entire parliamentary party was arranged on the vast stage, Russian politburo style. The very expensive backdrop was very long and very wide.

“D’know what it was like, Mary? It was like that Cinemascope,” said a woman to her companion as they left the hall.

Having spent the last three years blaming Fianna Fáil for everything, Fine Gael went one further on Saturday night and robbed their slogan from the 2007 election.

“The Next Steps.”

In the spirit of political upcycling, the next step will probably be the snaffling of that other FF gem: “A lot done; more to do.”

Enda looked well, exuding sincerity as he confidently delivered the speech he and his Ministers have been delivering since before Christmas.

“I want to talk to you tonight about where we are as a country,” he solemnly declared to those people still looking down the back of their sofa for the remote.

In the hall, we already knew the answer. A pre-election video shown earlier featured an old Irish Eurovision song called Somewhere in Europe .

Closer to home, the Taoiseach had to make some reference to the ongoing GSOC/ Garda whistleblower controversy. He reassured the public that he wanted to restore confidence in the justice system and the police force.

"Our only interest is in the public interest and the truth."

Unblushing guff
Then he went and spoiled it, brazenly ignoring the carry-on of his own ministers and backbenchers, with this unblushing guff: "Anyone who has tried to play politics with these issues should hang their heads in shame."

Heads high, Alan Shatter applauded enthusiastically and Michael Noonan – one of the worst offenders – gently tapped two fingers against his palm

After the weekend, we’re not saying Enda has lost the run of himself, but there were some alarming indications.

On The Week in Politics , in a Haugheyesque departure, he refers to the Irish public as "my people".

In his keynote address, he opened one passage with the words “Einstein was right”.

Which will come as a great comfort to theoretical physicists everywhere.

And finally, his face is now appearing on household articles.

Yesterday morning, when the shock subsided, we put our new Enda Kenny beaker up on the shelf beside our old “Gilmore for Taoiseach” one.

That’s two big mugs in the house now.