Fine Gael and the leadership question

Sir, – Enda Kenny’s exhibition of senior hurling against the hurlers on the ditch at the recent Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting once again demonstrated the political skill he has successfully honed and deployed over his 14-year captaincy of Fine Gael and his six years as Taoiseach. Now a new leader must step into the breach as Enda gracefully retires from the field of play. Fine Gael would be wise to choose a senior hurler. In 1987, they overlooked the credentials of Peter Barry. History does not have to repeat itself. This time the would-be captain will have the dual duties of captaincy at both party and national level. In light of the long shadow cast by Brexit over the Irish Sea, a senior hurler is required with a wise head on broad political shoulders to steer us through the headwinds ahead. Time to look south. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Enda has one particular, among many other, great strengths. He does not drink.

I’m not claiming that this is essential for a leader, but the advantages are obvious: being always fully in control; no dubious agreements made in the pub or over a boozy dinner; no silly speeches; no hangovers; ability to see everyone and everything clearly; no regrets about what was said last night; capable of making clear and effective decisions, and so on.

Ambitious politicians, take note! – Yours, etc,


Clontarf, Dublin 3.

Sir, – While most of our media outlets spent the past week convulsed with tittle-tattle surrounding the leadership of Fine Gael, the party’s leader and Taoiseach of our country was concentrated on the more serious issue of Brexit. Some in the media suggested that they should have been discussing “more serious issues”. Why did they not do so?

In one respect it was not a good week for the Taoiseach. But it was a week when the CSO released very positive employment figures, with unemployment down to 7 per cent in 2016 from 15 per cent in 2012, and 65,000 jobs were created last year. Charlie Taylor (February 22nd) notes, “notably job numbers increased in all sectors and in all regions of the country”. The latter point is worth noting when some argue that there is little or no development in the regions. A significant success story under the stewardship of Enda Kenny.

Now we hear some commentators alleging that “nothing will be done for the next two months”. Perhaps these same pundits will concentrate on scrutinising the “more serious” work of the various Ministers, in health and housing, for example, rather than obsessing about the leadership of Fine Gael. We, the public, can then judge what is or is not done. – Yours, etc,


Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

Sir, – He restored a party which had almost been decimated. He led this country through one of the worst economic and indeed psychological depressions of our time. He stood up and dared to speak out against a religious dogma and a society which imparted terrible suffering on our children over the years. He has been relentless in his endeavours to make this country a better place for all her citizens. He has worked tirelessly to rebuild our creditability so that we can once again hold our heads up amongst the nations of the world. Politics is without doubt a cruel business. Thank you, Taoiseach, for making us proud to be Irish again. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – Would you send an inexperienced person to negotiate a deal in Brussels to save us from the worst effects of Brexit? By dumping Enda Kenny, that is exactly what those in Fine Gael who want to oust the Taoiseach for their own personal ambition will do and we will pay the price for many years to come. Enda must stay to see the Brexit matter right through to conclusion. The alternative is unthinkable. – Yours, etc,


Blessington, Co Wicklow.

A chara, – Pat Cullen (February 24th) suggests that if Fine Gael “really put the country first” it would be “the new taoiseach” who was visiting Washington come St Patrick’s Day. However, things really aren’t that simple, are they? Fine Gael can, of course, choose whomever it likes as leader – as a political party that is its prerogative. But what we have in place at the moment is a minority Government. Installing a new person as taoiseach requires the cooperation of others in the Dáil outside the party, which is a delicate matter indeed. If handled badly the result is less likely to be a new taoiseach than the next general election. Something most agree is not in the best interests of the country right now. – Is mise,


Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – Having been passed over by previous Fine Gael leaders, it was inevitable that Enda Kenny would hang on to power for as long as possible when he finally got his hands on some power. – Yours, etc,


Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I am touched by Noel Whelan’s concern that the decision by the Taoiseach to “cling” to office for the next eight to 10 weeks will lead to the creation of a caretaker government and the belief that Fine Gael Ministers “will be absorbed by the machinations of the leadership race” (“We are about to have another caretaker government”, Opinion & Analysis, February 24th). I suspect it is primarily journalists themselves who are absorbed by this contest and the feeding frenzy of column inches over the last number of weeks suggests that this is the case. A little grace and dignity by the media would go a long way in calming nerves and give a little breathing space to the man who, along with a capable team, pulled this country from the abyss and helped to restore some self-belief in an ailing economy. – Yours, etc,


Bray, Co Wicklow.