Saturday 16 December 2017

For Enda Kenny, it's true: All things end badly... or else they wouldn't end

Editorial comment

The truism 'all things end badly or else they wouldn't end' is coming home to roost for Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The fallout from the Maurice McCabe fiasco has now shifted focus and there are ramifications for the upper echelons of Fine Gael.

There has been wide-scale sympathy across the board for everything Garda McCabe and his family have had to endure. But one man's burden is another's opportunity and Enda Kenny's time at the helm is coming to an end.

Politicians are masters at cosying up to the public's sense of outrage but beneath this public persona the pistons of self-opportunity are always working full throttle.

The topic of Mr Kenny's departure had been a can that was allowed be kicked down the road. But his fumbling over the McCabe controversy forced the 'rebels' hands. It appears the leading contenders were not ready to launch a putsch but the McCabe debacle - and the fact the Fine Gael came perilously close to another General Election with Mr Kenny at the helm - made the heave inevitable.

In many ways Mr Kenny only has himself to blame in this mess. His grasp on power showed little sign of loosening even after the party's disastrous election result in 2016 but the GUBU-like events surrounding the McCabe scandal revealed a Taoiseach who appeared over his head.

His seeming deference to Micheál Martin - increasingly seen as Taoiseach in all but name - will also have hardened the FG rebels' resolve that the time to move had come.

Ministers Coveney and Varadkar may have set the pace in the race but there are rumblings that Richard Bruton, Simon Harris, and Paschal Donohoe (who has publicly denied any interest in the job) are studying the form and may enter the race in the final furlong.

Meanwhile, one should not rule out a late bid from Minister Frances Fitzgerald. She is nothing if not confident and having weathered the early storm of the McCabe fiasco, she may well bounce back.

It wasn't supposed to be like this for the man who resurrected the fortunes of a party nearly destroyed in 2002 and who would later help lead Ireland back from the economic brink.

The FG leadership battle will be a long and intriguing contest and - despite some media claims - the outcome is far from certain.

Those outside Fine Gael can only hope that the party's members make the right decision. It is fundamentally undemocratic that a voting pool of just over 25,000 people will decide the next Taoiseach.

The future of their party is enormously important to Fine Gael's members and we can only hope they feel the same about their country.

The biggest shame in all of this is that the focus has shifted from Maurice McCabe and onto the internal bickering of the Fine Gael party. One presumes that when the Tribunal proper gets underway - and in history books years from now - the FG leadership race will look trivial by comparison.

Wexford People

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